Johnstone welcomes employment tribunal pledge

Posted on 06/08/2014 by



despair2Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, today secured a pledge from Scottish ministers that they will put pressure on the UK Government to protest at employment tribunal fees.

The Coalition introduced fees of between £160 and £1,200 a year ago. Since then there has been an 80 per cent drop in the number of cases going before tribunals.

Alison Johnstone raised the issue with Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance during Youth and Women’s Employment Questions at Holyrood today.

The Green MSP said: “Access to justice and employment rights is incredibly important. The TUC have said women have been among the biggest losers of the introduction of employment tribunal fees.

“A year down the line we see equal pay claims have dropped and sex discrimination cases are down. I don’t believe there should be any fees, and I am pleased that Scottish ministers will make representations to the UK Government.

“I support the Law Society of Scotland’s call for a review of these patently unfair charges.”

Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses, according to a new TUC report published last week to mark the one year anniversary of the new charges.

The report – What Price Justice?– shows how since the introduction of fees in July 2013 there has been a 79 per cent fall in overall claims taken to employment tribunals, with women and low-paid workers the worst affected. What Price Justice? analyses the latest Ministry of Justice statistics and reveals the following key findings:

  • Women are among the biggest losers – there has been an 80 per cent fall in the number of women pursuing sex discrimination claims. Just 1,222 women took out claims between January and March 2014, compared to 6,017 over the same period in 2013.
  • The number of women pursuing pregnancy discrimination claims is also down by over a quarter (26 per cent).
  • Race and disability claims have plummeted – during the first three months of 2014 the number of race discrimination and sexual orientation claims both fell by 60 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.
  • Disability claims have experienced a 46 per cent year-on-year reduction.
  • Workers are being cheated out of wages – there has been a 70 per cent drop in workers pursuing claims for non-payment of the national minimum wage.
  • Claims for unpaid wages and holiday pay have fallen overall by 85 per cent. The report says that many people are being put off making a claim, because the cost of going to a tribunal is often more expensive than the sum of their outstanding wages.
  • Low-paid workers are being priced out – only 24 per cent of workers who applied for financial assistance to take claims received any form of fee remittance.
  • Even workers employed on the minimum wage face fees of up to £1,200 if a member of their household has savings of £3,000.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses. By charging up-front fees for harassment and abuse claims the government has made it easier for bad employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour.

“Tribunal fees are part of a wider campaign to get rid of workers’ basic rights. The consequence has been to price low-paid and vulnerable people out of justice.”

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