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On July 28, 2017

Latest news: Supreme Court rules that employment tribunal fees are unlawful and now the government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants.

When the government introduced employment tribunal fees of up to £1,200 in 2013, it caused a reduction in claims of 79% over 3 years. Unison argued that the fees prevented workers accessing justice and now the Supreme Court has ruled that the government was acting unconstitutionally, unlawfully and basically unfairly when it introduced these fees.

Unison claimed that these unfair fees had let law-breaking bosses off the hook and badly treated staff had no choice but to put up or shut up. There is no way of knowing how many workers missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of the fees.

The government will now take immediate steps to refund the payments already made and stop any further charges. Fees ranged between £390 and £1,200 and have raised about £32m since being introduced.

Discrimination cases were the most expensive for claimants because of the complexity and time that the hearings would take and the Supreme Court has ruled that this was indirectly discriminatory as a higher proportion of women than men would bring discrimination cases.

The court also found that some people would not bring cases to employment tribunals because they would not gain any financial reward after paying the fees.

In summary, the court found that claimants in low or middle-income households could not afford the fees “without sacrificing ordinary and reasonable expenditure for substantial periods of time”.

The TUC said this was a “massive win” for workers. It was clear that many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their rights at work when faced with harassment or unfair dismissal and so introducing fees was morally wrong and a barrier to justice.

As an employee, have you suffered discrimination, harassment or any other unfair treatment at work? As an employer, do you know your legal obligations in the workplace? At Simpkins & Co we are experts in employment law and members of the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA). We offer a FREE, no obligation, initial consultation to everyone. Contact us now on 01425 275555 or visit www.simpkinsand.co.uk.

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