Plans for reform of the courts could deny workers justice, says UNISON

Possible government plans to make employment tribunals part of the civil courts system, and for online courts to hear claims up to £25,000, would make it extremely difficult for workers wronged by their employers to get justice, warns UNISON.

The proposals are among a number of ideas set out in an interim report from Lord Justice Briggs, which is part of a government review into court structures and judicial processes.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “People who have been treated unfairly at work already face an uphill battle to secure justice. Now that it costs several hundred pounds to take a case to an employment tribunal, many people – especially those on lower incomes – simply don’t have the financial clout to take their employers to court.

“If employment tribunals were to become part of the civil courts system, and claims up to £25,000 had to be dealt with online, it would make what is already a desperate situation much worse.

“Articulating a grievance and making a good case might come easily to highly paid professionals, but for other workers – especially those without the support of a union – the prospect of securing justice would be bleak.”

UNISON will be sending in a submission to the consultation on the interim report, before the end of February.

Notes to editors:

Employment tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013. UNISON has been fighting to have the fees abolished, and is still waiting to hear whether it can appeal to the Supreme Court.

Fees start at around £160 for claims relating to unlawful deduction of wages and breaches of contract, and £250 for those relating to unfair dismissal and discrimination claims. In addition, a hearing fee of either £230 or £950 has to be paid.

UNISON media contacts:

Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E:

Fatima Ayad T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07508 080383 E:

Alan Weaver: T: 0207 121 5555 M: 07939 143310 E: