UNISON’s case against employment tribunal fees is going to the Supreme Court today.
The two-day hearing is the final stage of UNISON’s legal campaign against the introduction of employment tribunal fees, which began back in 2013.
The changes mean that anyone who has been treated unlawfully or unfairly by their employer and who wants to challenge them at an employment tribunal has had to pay a fee, which ranges from £390 to £1,200.
In January, the government produced its review of the impact of fees. It showed there’d been a 70% drop in the number of cases since July 2013. Low-paid women, especially those treated unfairly when they were pregnant or on maternity leave, have been the biggest losers, says UNISON.
UNISON’s case at the Supreme Court case will assert that the government’s decision to demand a fee from anyone taking their employer to court has stopped many thousands of badly treated employees – especially those on low incomes – from getting justice.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis 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.”