Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 27th July 2017
Workers will no longer be obliged to pay any amount of money to bring forward claims they wish to make in the context of employment tribunals.
A ruling to that effect has been handed down by the Supreme Court, which has effectively scrapped a government policy on tribunal fees which was introduced in 2013.
Furthermore, the court, which is the highest legal authority in the country, ordered that the government should issue roughly £32 million worth of refunds to people who have paid for employment tribunal cases to be heard in recent years.
Charges levied against individual workers in the context of employment tribunals have ranged from between a few hundred pounds up to £1,200, depending on the nature of the case and the processes involved.
But it will now be unlawful for any charges to be demanded of employees who are pursuing a particular case by way of an employment tribunal.
There are now expectations that the ruling will result in an increase in the number of employment tribunal cases being brought forward.
For its part, the Supreme Court concluded that the charging system, introduced by the government in 2013, was effectively against both UK and EU laws because it potentially prevented access to justice.
The trade union organisation Unison brought the case to the courts and its representatives have welcomed the eventual outcome.
“The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness,” said Unison’s general secretary Dave Prentis.
“These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up.”
Justice minister Dominic Raab said in a statement following the court’s recent ruling: “The Supreme Court recognised the important role fees can play, but ruled that we have not struck the right balance in this case.
“We will take immediate steps to stop charging fees in employment tribunals and put in place arrangements to refund those who have paid.”