Thousands of people treated unfairly at work have still not been refunded hundreds of pounds they paid out to take their employers to court, says UNISON today (Thursday).
It is a year today since a landmark Supreme Court decision led to the scrapping of employment tribunal fees, following a successful legal case brought by UNISON.
However, since then, the government has refunded just £6.6m despite collecting £32m in fees from claimants who were forced to pay to take their cases to an employment tribunal.
The latest official tribunals statistics reveal that claims have soared since last summer’s case, proving that the controversial fees had acted as a huge barrier to justice, says UNISON.
According to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), a total of 9,252 single claims were brought against employers from January 2018 to the end of March. This is more than double the number received between October 2013 and June 2017, when people had to pay to take a case to an employment tribunal, says UNISON.
However, UNISON says cutbacks affecting tribunal services have led to long delays with 89% of cases still waiting to be heard.
UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The introduction of tribunal fees was not this government’s finest hour. Making people who’d been discriminated against, or treated unfairly, shell out before they could seek justice was unlawful and unconstitutional. It’s a decision that has also cost taxpayers dearly.
“We’ll probably never know how many unscrupulous employers were let off the hook because the pursuit of justice was too expensive for the staff they’d treated so badly.
“When UNISON took this case, it was on the side of working people everywhere. As a result, employers who break the law are now more likely to be held to account.
“Putting right this huge wrong should have happened faster. The government must make much more of an effort to pay back the money it owes to thousands of people, and promise never again to introduce such a huge barrier to justice.”
Disclaimer: This is an edited press release from UNISON.