TUC urges MPs to reconsider tribunal fees in last minute intervention

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The TUC has made a last minute call for MPs to halt plans for employment tribunal fees, warning that if implemented, many of the UK's lowest paid workers will be priced out of justice.

This afternoon a committee of MPs will debate whether to allow tribunal fees to become law from this July.

Plans to apply fees to all employment tribunals and employment appeal tribunals lodged from 29 July were confirmed last week.

The government's plans for tribunals include a ‘remission scheme' which will make some of the lowest paid exempt from the proposed costs. However, the TUC said that a substantial proportion of workers on the minimum wage would still be require to pay fees of up to £345 to bring a case to an employment tribunal.

This is because the ability to pay is tested on household income rather than an individual's earnings. The test also assumes that all household income is shared equally between a couple. The TUC disagreed with these rules, saying that a woman's capacity to enforce her individual rights should not depend on her partner's consent.

Fees proposed for tribunals have also been set disproportionately high in order to deter many people from taking claims forward, the TUC stated. For example, an employee seeking to recover unpaid wages or holiday pay from their employer would be required to pay upfront fees of up to £390 for their case to be decided.

Those seeking to challenge discrimination in the workplace will be required to pay as much as £1,200 for their case to be decided. The TUC warned that this meant some individuals would be required to pay upfront fees which were higher than the value of their claim.

"Introducing tribunal fees will serve only to embolden rogue employers, who will be able to mistreat staff without fear of sanction," said TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady.

"Regardless of what ministers say this is not about cutting red tape for businesses. It is yet another attack on workers' employment rights and will result in victims being deterred from making genuine claims."

O' Grady added: "Erecting punitive financial barriers is not our idea of fairness. The government's remission scheme to protect the lowest paid is woefully inadequate and many of the UK's most vulnerable workers will simply be priced out of justice."

For an analysis of the main costs and changes to the system see here.

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