Employment Tribunal Fees Scrapped - What Next?

On the 29th July 2013 employment tribunal fees were put into place. It meant that anyone that wanted to file a tribunal claim against their employer, would have to pay a minimum of £160 to file a claim. For most this put the idea of putting a claim in not only unaffordable, but also fearful of how much fees could rise to. This week, Unison managed to overturn this ruling to finally make it affordable for everyone. 

As someone that is on a low wage, if I had to take my employer to a tribunal it would have been out of the question. Mostly due to the fact that to take them to a tribunal would be so unaffordable that it would be out of the question to even consider the idea. Most people on a low income don't have savings, don't have the guidance and don't know where to start when trying to seek justice for discrimination.

By implementing a fee, the government seemed to contradict themselves by saying that they wanted to end discrimination but by blocking the first access to justice for those that experience it. It left employers being the ones holding all the cards as they knew that for most, a tribunal was an unaffordable task. By Unison overturning this, it allows everyone the opportunity to file claims when needed and seek support when they experience any case of discrimination.

But what next? Whilst the ruling and fees might be overturned, the hard work isn't done. Not only does more need to be done to challenge discrimination as a whole, things need to change for people that are victims of maternity discrimination.

Under current rulings, to claim against an employer for maternity discrimination you need to put the claim in within three months of the incident occurring. For many mothers they are either dealing with a newborn, suffering in pregnancy or just not in the right frame of mind to even think about a tribunal claim. Pregnant and Screwed are currently trying to campaign for an extension on this time limit to six months to allow mothers time to prepare and get themselves into the right mind set to challenge employers.

For many this may be seen as a massive victory, but I think it's more a starting point to open up the conversation. To challenge not only the employers but also the government to address how discrimination is seen and addressed in the workplace. Whatever happens, this is only the beginning!

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