Having finally succeeded after a four-year battle, Unison was understandably delighted with the decision of the Supreme Court to declare that fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims are illegal.
Whether it really is “the most significant judicial intervention in the history of British employment law” is perhaps open to argument but it is certainly a blow to the Government which introduced fees in 2013 in an attempt to reduce the number of malicious and weak cases being brought before tribunals.
The union argued that the new rules on fees had infringed EU law, constitutional law “and even the Magna Carta” as official statistics showed that the number of cases taken by workers had dropped by nearly 70% since the fees were introduced.
People bringing cases faced charges of between £390 and £1200 with discrimination cases costing more because of the complexity and the time hearings took.
Describing the ruling as a massive win for working people, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Too many low-paid workers couldn’t afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they’ve faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly. Tribunal fees have been a bonanza for bad bosses, giving them free rein to mistreat staff. Any fees paid so far should be refunded as soon as possible.”
The Government has confirmed that it will repay claimants with the bill calculated to reach some £32 million.
The Court ruled that the Government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees. It also found that the fees were indirectly discriminatory to women because a higher proportion of women would bring (more expensive) discrimination cases.
Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: "We respect the judgment and we are going to take it fully on board and we are going to comply with it."
The full judgment can be found at http://bit.ly/2eMIDnw.
FInd out more about this and wide range of HR issues here