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The Scottish Government are to consider scrapping employment tribunal fees if they are able to transfer the necessary powers from Westminster.
According to a dossier released by the Scottish Government titled A stronger Scotland – the Government’s programme for Scotland 2015-2016, the Scottish Government cited their intentions stating: “We will abolish fees for employment tribunals, when we are clear on how the transfer of powers and responsibilities will work,” the programme says. “We will consult on the shape of services that can best support people’s access to employment justice as part of the transfer of the powers of Employment Tribunals to Scotland.”
Such a move relies on the powers necessary being transferred to the Scottish Government.
Employment tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013 in an attempt to reduce the backlog of employment claims and from needless or fraudulent claims making it through the court system. Under the new rules imposed by the Government, applicants had to pay £160 for lodging a claim and £230 for a hearing for the most basic claim. More complex claims resulted in £250 charge to lodge and £950 for a hearing.
Many experts criticised the fees being introduced and stated that such a high cost was acting as “a barrier to justice” with Citizens Advice Scotland calling for such fees to be scrapped altogether. Trade union Unison has also taken legal action over the matter, with the trade union recently losing their third case calling for a judicial review of the fees regime.
As a result of the fees, according to figures from the TUC there has been a dramatic drop in the number of tribunals in the last year. According to their figures, there has been a drop of 79% of the claims in the first year, with such reports having “no obvious explanation, other than the introduction of fees”.
The Scottish Government has pledged to scrap fees if possible even though the UK Government have ordered an extensive investigation into the effectiveness of the system. A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We will create a fairer country. We will promote a proper living wage, fair work and use new powers to improve the welfare system, mitigating some of the worst impacts of the UK Government’s cuts.”
Taking legal action at any point can be exceptionally daunting especially if it is against your employer or former employer. Many people believe that by taking legal action they could lose their job, however, if this was the case then you would be able to take action citing unfair dismissal. At Employment Law Edinburgh, we aim to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. If you have been discriminated against due to your age, gender or ethnicity, been harassed in the workplace or been unfairly dismissed our team of solicitors can help you get the closure and compensation you deserve.
If you require legal advice regarding any aspect of employment law, whether it be negotiating a settlement agreement or any employment tribunal representation, our team of solicitors can help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today using our online contact form.