Labour demands ‘full and unequivocal’ apology over unlawful employment tribunal fees
The Government must apologise to the thousands of employees "deliberately blocked" from access to justice by unlawful employment tribunal fees, the Shadow Justice Secretary has said.
Richard Burgon said the policy had caused "injustice, unfairness and damage" and he suggested those who had been blocked from the courts should get their jobs back.
In a landmark ruling this week the Supreme Court declared the fees - introduced by the coalition government in 2013 - unlawful and "discriminatory", in a case brought by the public sector union, Unison.
The judgment means the Government could be forced to shell out up to £32m to the thousands of people charged for taking claims to tribunal since July 2013.
Mr Burgon demanded a “full and unequivocal” apology and urged ministers to lay out a timetable on when those affected would be compensated.
In an open letter to Justice Secretary David Lidington, the Leeds East MP demanded to know how much taxpayers’ cash was spent defending the policy.
And he suggested employees who did not pursue a claim because of the fees should be re-appointed to their jobs.
"It is now vital that you take urgent steps to address the injustice, unfairness and damage caused by your unlawful policy," he said.
"It is just a shame that the Government did not listen to the trade unions, the legal community, the Labour party or myself.
"If the Government had done so, it would not have found itself in the shameful position it now does - found to have unlawfully restricted access to justice for its own citizens."
A recent government review found the number of cases taken to employment tribunals had fallen by 70% following the introduction of the fees.
The shadow minister also pressed for an independent review of whether fees for other tribunals had prevented people accessing justice.
And he added: "Given your government’s record of denial in relation to your unlawful Employment Tribunal Fees, it is clear that your Government cannot be trusted to carry out this review itself."
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