The report by the law society urges government to rethink the fees introduced for employment tribunals.
The report published 28 July has said that the fees represent a major barrier to access to justice. They are also the reason for an 81% drop in the number of cases going before UK employment tribunals since the introduction of the fees in July 2013.
Convener of the Law Society's Access to Justice Committee, Stuart Naismith said:
"The effect of introducing fees, ostensibly to help meet the costs of running the tribunal system, has been drastic. We believe the current system is highly unfair and is preventing legitimate cases being heard by a tribunal.”
The Access to Justice Committee has written to the both UK Government Minister, Christopher Grayling MP and the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Justice Kenny MacAskill MSP aking for the fees to be reviewed urgently. Mr Naismith also said :
"The employment tribunal system has worked well throughout its history, offering an impartial tribunal to resolve workplace disputes. The relationship between employer and claimant is often imbalanced and having a system in place which serves both parties effectively is crucial in the interests of fairness.”
The Access to Justice Committee believes that the introduction of fees has been detrimental to the balance of fairness in terms of access to justice. Members of the Law Society were asked for their opinions on the impact of the fees. Overwhelmingly, the majority of respondents said that the level that the fees are currently set at prevent employees with valid claims raising them at an employment tribunal.
Furthermore, another outcome of the introduction of fees is that employers no longer feel bound to resolve problems. They believe that they can continue as they wish, safe in the knowledge that a member of staff or former employee will not raise a claim against them because of the cost.
Mr Naismith said;
"It is an appalling outcome where the right not to be unfairly dismissed, which has been enshrined in statute for almost 40 years, seems now to have been completely undone following the introduction of fees."
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