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Labour Vows to Scrap Employment Tribunal Fees

The UK’s largest unions have blamed employment tribunal fees for record year-on-year drop in claims.

Data from the Ministry of Justice last September 11 showed a 70% drop on the number of single claims filed in UK’s employment tribunals from April-June of this year compared to those lodged last year while multiple tribunal claims suffered an 85% decrease. Sex discrimination complaints, on the other hand, fell by as much as 91% while race discrimination claims dropped by 61%.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) said in its report that the unprecedented drop in employee claims was brought about by imposition of employment tribunal fees which began last year and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) Early Conciliation scheme implemented earlier this year.

UNISON, one of the largest unions in UK, believed that the recent data will bolster its pending case with the Court of Appeal. UNISON prays for the removal of the employment tribunal fees, claiming that the fees are indirectly discriminating women, black and ethnic minorities and other marginalised groups.

Under the current scheme, workers need to pay £160-£250 for issuance of a claim and £230-£950 for the tribunal to hear their case. It is estimated that a worker may be required to spend as much as £1,200 in order to pursue his claim. Acas Early Conciliation requires workers to notify Acas first prior to lodging claims against employers.

Frances O’Grady, TUC’s general secretary, said in a September 11 press release on TUC’s website, “Early conciliation through Acas is a welcome step that is helping in some cases when things go wrong at work, but it can’t explain such a large fall in the number of employment tribunals. The fees system is a victory for Britain’s bad bosses who are getting away with harassment and abuse of workers.”

Chuka Umunna, Labour’s shadow business secretary, told The Telegraph last September 8 that his party, if elected, will scrap employment tribunal fees and replace it with a system that allows workers to properly access justice.   


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