27 March 2017
Unison’s judicial review against the government’s introduction of employment tribunal fees in 2013 was today heard in the Supreme Court.
The Court will assess the case over two days, in which Unison will argue that the government’s imposed levy of up to £1,200 on workers is blocking thousands of unfairly treated workers from seeking justice.
Dave Prentis, General Secretary for Unison, said: “If an employer breaks the law and treats one of their employees unfairly, they should be challenged. It cannot be right that unscrupulous bosses are escaping punishment because people simply don’t have the money to pursue a case.
“The introduction of fees was a terrible decision. It has denied many thousands of people the right to seek justice. Bad employers are having a field day, safe in the knowledge that few will be able to afford to challenge them at a tribunal.
“The government originally said making people pay would weed out vexatious claims. All it’s done is penalise lower paid employees with genuine grievances. That’s why it’s so important our legal challenge succeeds.”
Indeed, an analysis of government data published in Modern Law Review today backs up Unison’s claims, with experts in law and economics from Oxford University saying that up to half of the claims likely to succeed at tribunal would present a loss to workers if they were brought.
The paper reveals that many of those with strong claims are entitled to low payouts, and in many cases the initial fee exceeds the amount of money a worker can claim back, making the process of accessing justice economically unviable. The authors went on to describe the fees as “disproportionate” and “a clear violation” of UK and EU law.