Campaigners today went to the High Court in a bid to overturn the government’s introduction of employment tribunal fees.
Trade union Unison is arguing its case at a judicial review hearing challenging new costs that were introduced in July.
Fees start at around £160 to issue a claim, rising to £250 a claim depending on the type of claim, with further hearing fees starting between £230 and £950. Where claims are issued by a group, issue fees range from £320 to £460.
The union will point to the government’s latest statistics which show an 8% drop in individual claims for employment tribunals since the fees were introduced.
The union said the figures are not straightforward as there are a number of large ongoing claims which skew them, but the underlying trend is a massive fall in claimants.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘Putting a price on justice is immoral and allows unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over the employment rights of their workers.
‘Experience shows that the balance in the workplace favours the employers, and pricing workers out of court is unfair and underhand. We believe our arguments are strong and the case is a good one and we look forward to a positive outcome.’
The Ministry of Justice claims the changes will save £10m a year. Employment lawyers have suggested the changes could lead to a 25% fall in the number of cases.
When the judicial review was granted in August, then-justice secretary Helen Grant said taxpayers should not have to cover the £74m cost of workplace disputes and that people should make a contribution where they can afford to.