A big day in legal rights for workers today as their rights at work are significantly dented. I’d urge you all now if you are not already to join a trade union as unions are there to protect your rights oh well they are supposed to anyway. Some unions have already pledged to cover the extra cots that workers will face but you need to be in a union for this help and support.
Elizabeth George from the law firm Leigh Day has called plans to charge people to take action against their employer a retrogressive step, and claims that the system will be thrown into chaos through a lack of preparation for the changes and inadequate information for claimants and their representatives.
Full information was only released one working day before the fees are introduced, late on 24 July.
From today (29 July 2013), workers making an unfair dismissal or discrimination claim against their employer will have to pay fees of up to £1200, regardless of the manner in which they have been treated at work.
The first fee is an ‘Issue Fee’ and must be paid at the same time as the claim is issued It will be £160 or £250, depending on the type of case being brought.
The second fee is a ‘Hearing Fee’ and must be paid before the full hearing takes place. It will be either £230 or £950, again depending on the type of case.
The lower fees will be for cases such as wages claims whilst those bringing claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination will have to pay the higher fee. Whilst some provision is being made for those on low incomes, who may be exempt from paying fees under the ‘Fee Remission Scheme’, the details on how to apply for this remission were only announced on 24 July.
Details on who qualifies for the fee remission scheme have been made available; an unmarried claimant with no children will not qualify if they are earning over £13,000. A married person with 4 children will be ineligible if the combined household income exceeds £29,000.
Elizabeth George, a Barrister in the employment team at law firm Leigh Day said: “This sends a very dangerous message to employers who will be less inclined to abide by their legal obligations as the risk of being challenged will be much reduced.
“These fees will disproportionately hit those suffering discrimination because of their age, race, disability and gender with women returning from maternity leave particularly hard hit as they’ll be judged on their salary when they left rather than their statutory maternity pay."
In 2012/ 13 there were 191,540 claims brought in front of the employment tribunal which has seen a 74% rise in the number of sex discrimination claims.
Ms George explained: “Whilst we cannot know the number of legitimate claims these fees will dissuade, the introduction of substantial and often disproportionate fees will undoubtedly see many people having to put up with discrimination and unable to challenge unfair dismissals however badly they have been treated.
“We have already seen guidance from lawyers advising employers to wait to fire people as it will be cheaper and the chances of being taken to Tribunal will be less following the introduction of fees.
“Instead of standing up for people suffering unlawful discrimination in the workplace, the Government is doing the exact opposite by potentially penalising those who get pregnant, those who are disabled, those who fall ill and those who grow old.”