Unison is challenging tribunal fees by way of judicial review. The UK’s largest union is taking the government to a Judicial Review in protest over the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees. Their legal action is backed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
For the first time, mistreated employees are required to pay hefty upfront court fees if they wish to take their employers to tribunals. Previously, employees could challenge their employers without having to consider the financial risk they were putting themselves under; now they must take a view about whether the benefits outweigh the costs when considering whether to enforce their employment rights.
A claimant wishing to make a claim for unfair dismissal would have to pay £250 to issue their case to the tribunal and a further £950 if their case is heard by the tribunal.
There is provision for the remission of fees for those on limited incomes but the application process for remission is complicated and strictly means tested. A worker earning average pay would still be required to pay.
To add to the strength of Unison’s case, commentators believe that new figures will be released by the government which indicate that there has been a significant drop in the number of individual claims being brought to tribunals. It appears that employees are simply choosing to accept unfair treatment rather than paying upfront to challenge it.
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison has said,
‘…putting a price on justice is immoral and allows unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over the employment rights of their workers. […] Experience shows that the balance in the workplace favours employers and pricing workers out of court is unfair and underhand.’
The Ministry of Justice has indicated that it will repay all the fees so far paid to it if the judicial review upholds Unisons case.