07 September 2017
Government apology over employment tribunal fees
The Government is acting quickly to end controversial employment tribunal fees.
Dominic Raab, a Justice Minister, apologised for any harm caused by the much-debated charges for bringing claims.
He confirmed the Government will reimburse anyone affected by the fees, after the Supreme Court ruled the practice unlawful and unconstitutional, since being introduced four years ago.
During Justice questions in the Commons on the first day back after the summer parliamentary recess, Mr Raab was urged to apologise to those who had their access to justice "deliberately and unlawfully" blocked through the employment tribunal fees.
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said: "I wrote to the Secretary of State back in July calling on him to issue a full and unequivocal apology to working people for deliberately and unlawfully blocking their access to justice through employment tribunal fees.
"Last week I received this wholly inadequate reply - but will the Minister apologise today for the suffering that this policy has caused to hundreds of thousands of working people?"
Mr Raab replied: "We admitted we can see that we got the balance wrong.
"I am very sorry, I'm happy to say, for any frustration or any deleterious impact this had on anyone that's been affected by this and that's why we're acting so quickly both to end the charges but also to make sure that there are practical arrangements for the reimbursement for anyone affected by those fees."
Trade union Unison launched the legal battle against fees of up to £1,200 for taking a case to a tribunal, which it argued were preventing many workers, especially the low-paid, getting justice.
A review of the impact of the fees earlier this year showed there had been a 70% drop in the number of cases since they were introduced in 2013.
Low-paid women, especially those treated unfairly when they were pregnant or on maternity leave, were the biggest losers, an analysis by Unison found.