The Labour Party has vowed to “ensure proper access to justice in the workplace” and will abolish employment tribunal fees if it is elected next week. The move will be part of reforms to create a quicker and simpler system for flexible workers, employers and employees.
Fees for employment tribunals were met with a mixed reception when they were introduced in 2013, with charges currently starting at £160 and rising up to £250 depending upon the case. There is also a fee for a further hearing, which can range from £230 to £950.
The number of claims saw a significant slump when the fees came into effect and Labour has stated in its manifesto that it will now ensure justice “by abolishing the government’s employment tribunal fee system”. The announcement was applauded by trade unions, which have been campaigning to bring an end to the fees in the run up to the general election.
The general secretary of the GMB Union, Paul Kenny, said: “At long last we have a major political party prepared to address and give rights to workers to shield them from exploitation in their workplaces. Voters are faced with a stark choice ‒ a party governing in the interest of corporate bosses with zero-hours contracts and for tax breaks for the wealthy elite or a party seeking to provide rights and protection for working people.”
Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable has also admitted that employment tribunal fees were “a very bad move”, with subsequent claims falling by almost 70% during the first quarter of the 2013/14 financial year.