One year on: 80% of government promised employment tribunal refunds unpaid
By TruePublica: The government introduced fees to take an employer to an employment tribunal of up to £1,200 in 2013, which it said would cut the number of malicious and weak cases but in fact did little but to drastically reduce genuine cases coming to court, preventing workers accessing justice. Ultimately, the government was found by the supreme court to have acted unlawfully and has since failed to repay outstanding fees.
After the Supreme Court ruled in July 2017 the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees in 2013, the government promised to stop the fees and refund those who had paid.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said:
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“The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong – not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.”
He added: “These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up. We’ll never know how many people missed out because they couldn’t afford the expense of fees.”
Well over a year later, the government has not complied with the Supreme Court ruling.
This by Max Walters from the Law Society Gazette:
Thousands of claimants who paid fees to bring an employment tribunal claim continue to be out of pocket one year on from a damning Supreme Court ruling that rendered fees unlawful.
According to figures published by the Ministry of Justice, it has so far refunded £6.6m of the expected £33m refund cost (20%). The government said immediately after the ruling that it would refund those who had paid a fee and set-up an official refund programme in October 2017.
In May last year, the Gazette reported that the government had refunded around £2.8m of the expected overall cost. After those figures were published the government then backtracked on its decision not to contact eligible claimants directly, with justice secretary David Gauke confirming that ‘further action was necessary’ to ensure refunds were made in a timely fashion.
Reacting to the latest figures, Christina McAnea, assistant general secretary Unison, which brought the successful challenge, said:
‘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.’
The latest figures also reveal that the number of people bringing a claim since last July’s ruling continues to rise sharply compared with when fees were in place. According to the MoJ, 9,252 single claims were brought against employers from January 2018 to the end of March – more than double the number received between October 2013 and June 2017.