UNISON National

UNISON’s battle to scrap employment tribunal fees set to continue

UNISON welcomes decision that means fight can continue against imposition of fees to take a case to tribunal

UNISON has welcomed today’s (Friday) Supreme Court decision granting the union permission to continue its legal challenge against employment tribunal fees.

Ever since the government introduced tribunal fees three years ago, the number of claims has plummeted as workers have been forced to find fees of between £160 and £1,200 before they can pursue a case.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “We’re delighted that the Supreme Court has given us permission to continue our legal fight against these unfair and punitive fees.

“Three years ago the government introduced tribunal fees, immediately making it much harder for employees – especially those on low incomes – to challenge bosses who break the law. Unsurprisingly employment tribunal claims have since dropped by 70 per cent.

“As a result it’s too easy for bad employers to escape justice. Many low-wage workers now have to put up with unfair or discriminatory treatment simply because they cannot afford to take a case.

“UNISON’s challenge against fees may have been several years in the making, but we’re determined not to give up the fight. Thousands of low-paid workers will be pinning their hopes on us being successful.”

Although last August the Court of Appeal rejected UNISON’s appeal, it described the case as ‘troubling’, and expressed a ‘strong suspicion that so large a decline [in claims] is unlikely to be accounted for entirely by cases of ‘won’t pay’ and [that] it must also reflect at least some cases of ‘can’t pay’.

 

Notes to editors:

Employment tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013. Since then UNISON has been fighting to have thefees abolished.

Fees start at around £160 to issue a type A claim (eg unlawful deduction of wages or 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.

Timeline

– 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 to September 2013 show a 56 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period 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 was premature and that new proceedings should be lodged, if and when further evidence was available.

– March 2014: Ministry of Justice figures for October 2013 to December 2013 show a 79 per cent drop in claims compared to the same period the previous year https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics

–  May 2014: 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 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 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.

–  December 2014: 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 is made.

 

UNISON media contacts:

Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk

Fatima Ayad T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk