general politics

UK Government accused of employment tribunal fees cover-up

The UK Government has received criticism for not making a report known that shows employment tribunal fees have hit women and ethnic minorities the hardest.

Shadow minister for diverse communities, Dawn Butler, believes hundreds of Londoners are now struggling to access justice and claims the Government has known about difficulties with the fees for 18 months.

In a letter to the Commons’ Procedure Committee, she claims the Ministry of Justice has been sitting on an equality impact assessment and the review’s findings since July last year.

She believes both documents will show the Government knew the fees would discriminate against certain groups.

The Brent Central MP said: “All the data tells us that the introduction of fees has hindered the ability of people with limited means to seek justice.”

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Legal aid is available in discrimination cases and we are protecting the most vulnerable by introducing waivers for those who cannot afford the fees.”

Between January and March 2013 — before the introduction of fees — there were 1,240 race discrimination cases in the UK. In general racial discrimination have fallen by 70 per cent since charges of up to £1,200 were introduced in 2013.

However, up to last March this had halved to 530 cases, according to research by union Unison. Employment tribunal fees are now set at £160 to lodge a claim and £230 for the first hearing for cases dealing with unpaid wages, redundancy pay, holiday pay, notice pay and equal pay.

For unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistleblowing the initial fee ranges between £350 and £950.

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