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Tribunal costs mean rogue employers let off the hook

This news post is about 9 years old

​Prohibitive costs are discouraging workers challenging rogue employers

Challenging rogue employers at tribunals is becoming increasingly difficult due to controversial new fees being imposed, a leading charity has warned.

A report by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) and Strathclyde University says the charges are deterring people from challenging unfair dismissal and discrimination cases.

Figures in the report show that there has been an 81% drop in tribunal cases between January and April 2014 compared to the same time the previous year before fees were introduced.

The fees can cost up to £1,200 for an individual to take their case to tribunal.

Before 2013 it was free to take your employer to tribunal for cases of exploitation, harassment or mis-treatment at work.

Two years ago, however, the UK government introduced a fee for such tribunals.

People who have suffered such treatment surely have a right to justice

As a consequence, the Price of Justice report says cost is now the main problem in taking cases forward.

CAS spokeswoman Lauren Wood said: "The evidence shows that people have been deterred from taking their grievances to tribunal because they simply can't afford to pay the fee.

"Let's be clear what we are talking about here. Employment Tribunals regularly include cases where people have been un-paid or under-paid for work they have done, or cases where they have been mistreated - including bullying, racism, sexual harassment.

“People who have suffered such treatment surely have a right to justice, and that right should not be based on their ability to pay.

“In highlighting this issue we call on the government - and all political parties - to think again about the price of justice, and to get rid of these fees. Justice should be available to everyone, not just the wealthy.”

Author of the study, Emily Rose, research associate at Strathclyde University, said: “The research shows that the introduction of fees is acting as a great deterrent for workers.

“At one time, you would have looked at the merits of the case but now people are having to make pragmatic decisions about whether it's financially worth it or not, and many are deciding it's not.”