TRIBUNAL FEES RULED ILLEGAL – Unison court victory

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EMPLOYMENT tribunal fees will be scrapped after Unison won a landmark court victory against a government policy yesterday morning that was found to be illegal.

The Supreme Court – the UK’s highest court – has unanimously ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees four years ago. From today, anyone who has been treated illegally or unfairly at work will no longer have to pay to take their employers to court – as a direct result of Unison’s legal challenge.

The government will also have to refund more than £27m to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunals since July 2013, when fees were introduced by then Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling.

Reacting to the decision, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘The government is not above the law. But when ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.

‘The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too. It’s a major victory for employees everywhere. Unison took the case on behalf of anyone who’s ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future. Unscrupulous employers no longer have the upper hand.

‘These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up. We’ll never know how many people missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of fees. But at last this tax on justice has been lifted.’

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: ‘This is a massive win for working people. Too many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they’ve faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly. Tribunal fees have been a bonanza for bad bosses, giving them free rein to mistreat staff.’