Unison has won a ‘landmark’ court victory against the Government over controversial fees for taking claims to an employment tribunal.
The fees of up to £1,200 were introduced four years ago and have since led to a 79 per cent drop in the number of tribunals.
But they must now be scrapped and anyone who brought a case to tribunal after July 2013 will have their fees refunded, according to a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court.
Unison, the public sector union which mounted the legal challenge, arguing that the fees discriminated against women and other groups of workers, has hailed the decision ‘a major victory for employees everywhere.’
This is a great outcome for employees and workers who have in recent years been discouraged from pursuing potentially viable claims because of the fees payable.
General Secretary Dave Prentis said: "When ministers introduced fees they were disregarding laws many centuries old, and showing little concern for employees seeking justice following illegal treatment at work.
"The Government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong - not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too.
"It's a major victory for employees everywhere. Unison took the case on behalf of anyone who's ever been wronged at work, or who might be in future.
"We'll never know how many people missed out because they couldn't afford the expense of fees, but at last this tax on justice has been lifted."
Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013, starting at around £160 and increasing to up to £1,200 for certain cases.
Unison says the Government will now have to refund millions of pounds to the thousands of people charged for taking their claims to tribunal since.
The surprise ruling overturned judgments made by the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2015.
Claire Dawson, head of employment at Slater and Gordon said: “This is a great outcome for employees and workers who have in recent years been discouraged from pursuing potentially viable claims because of the fees payable.
“The Supreme Court recognised fees have been a barrier to them accessing justice, and had a discriminatory impact on women because they are more likely to bring claims for a discriminatory dismissal - especially for pregnancy or maternity related reasons."