UNISON has welcomed the Scottish Government announcement that it intends to abolish fees for employment tribunals in Scotland.
This announcement comes the week after UNISON vowed to go to the UK Supreme Court in its ongoing fight to appeal against the UK government’s decision to introduce employment tribunal fees across the UK – after the Court of Appeal rejected UNISON’s case.
Mike Kirby, UNISON Scottish Secretary said: “The announcement to end tribunal fees in Scotland is hugely welcome. There is clear evidence that people at work are being priced out of justice, with women, disabled people and the low-paid being disproportionately punished. This decision will ensure that people at work in Scotland will get a fair opportunity to have their case heard. This announcement goes a long way towards building more sensible industrial relations in Scotland and we welcome it.”
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary said: “We urge the UK government to look at what is happening in Scotland to see that there is a better way. Workers across the UK who have been treated badly at work are being denied access to justice day after day, simply because they don’t have the money to take a case. Now it seems that workers in Scotland are at least going to get a better deal. Our fight for fairness at work and access to justice for every person at work in the UK will continue until these unfair and punitive fees are scrapped right across the land.”
Notes to editors
Employment tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013 by the UK government. UNISON has been fighting to have the fees abolished across UK.
Fees start at around £160 to issue a Type A claim (eg unlawful deduction of wages, breach of contract) and £250 for a Type B claim (eg unfair dismissal, discrimination claims), with a further hearing fee of £230 for Type A claims and £950 for Type B claims.
The Scottish government announced In ‘A Stronger Scotland: The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2015-16’, that it intends to abolish employment tribunal fees. On page 3 of the document (p6 of the pdf file), the government states “…we will abolish fees for employment tribunals – ensuring that employees have a fair opportunity to have their case heard.”
– 29 July 2013: Introduction of employment tribunal fees for workers wishing to lodge a claim against an employer. Workers must also pay a further fee when the case is heard. Appeals at the employment appeal tribunal also attract a lodging (£400) and hearing fee.
– 29 July 2013: UNISON seeks permission in the High Court to bring Judicial Review proceedings.
– October/November 2013: UNISON’s first claim is heard in the High Court.
– December 2013: Following the introduction of fees, Ministry of Justice statistics for July-September 2013 show a 56 per cent drop in ET claims compared to the same period in the previous year https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics
– February 2014: UNISON’s challenge is unsuccessful. The High Court states that the claim brought by UNISON was premature and that new proceedings should be lodged if and when further evidence was available.
– March 14: Ministry of Justice figures for October 2013-December 2013 show a 79 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics
– May 14: UNISON is granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal.
– June 2014: Ministry of Justice figures for January to March 2014 show a 81 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year 9 https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics).
– September 2014: Ministry of Justice figures for April to June 2014 show an 81 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period in the previous year (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics).
– September 2014: Court of Appeal claim is stayed to allow a second High Court challenge.
– October 2014: UNISON brings its second judicial review challenge against the Lord Chancellor over ET fees.
– December 14: UNISON’s second challenge is unsuccessful despite ‘the striking and very dramatic reduction in claims’.
– April 2015: The Court of Appeal hears UNISON’s appeals in relation to both High Court claims.
– 26 August 2015: UNSION is unsuccessful at the Court of Appeal and an application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court has been made.