Unison, one of the UK’s largest trade unions, will go to the Supreme Court to challenge the cost of bringing an unfair dismissal claim to Employment Tribunals.
The group is rallying against fees costing up to £1,200, which reportedly led to a 70 per cent fall in the number of dismissal cases.
The 1.3 million-strong trade group will argue that the fees are preventing many mistreated workers from obtaining justice and are discriminatory.
While the High Court initially ruled against Unison, the Court of Appeal gave it permission to put its case forwards in a final appeal before the Supreme Court.
Unison’s general secretary, Dave Prentis, said: “If an employer breaks the law and treats one of their employees unfairly, they should be challenged. It cannot be right that unscrupulous bosses are escaping punishment because people simply don’t have the money to pursue a case.
“The introduction of fees was a terrible decision. It has denied many thousands of people the right to seek justice. Bad employers are having a field day, safe in the knowledge that few will be able to afford to challenge them at a tribunal.
“The government originally said making people pay would weed out vexatious claims. All it’s done is penalise lower-paid employees with genuine grievances. That’s why it’s so important our legal challenge succeeds.”
In January, a Government report highlighting the impact of fees showed that there had been a 70 per cent drop in the number of cases since 2013.
Fees start from £160 for issuing a claim for lost wages or breach of contract, plus a further £230 if the case is heard in a tribunal.
Unfair dismissal or discrimination claims start from £250, plus a hearing fee of £950.
The Commons justice select committee’s chair, MP Bob Neill, said: “The MoJ has argued that changes to employment law and the improving economic situation, as well as the pre-existing downward trend in the number of employment tribunal cases being brought, may account for part of the reduction in the number of cases.
“These may indeed be facts, but the timing and scale of the reduction following immediately from the introduction of fees can leave no doubt that the clear majority of the decline is attributable to fees.”