Tory-Lib Dem tribunal plans a threat to employment justice warns MSP

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By a Newsnet reporter

An MSP has raised concerns after it emerged that the UK Government are planning to bring in plans that would see a fee being levied against anyone seeking to take their case to an employment tribunal, before the case could be heard.
 
The Tory-Lib coalition’s consultation paper states that charging for employment tribunals will definitely be implemented, with a range of proposed upfront fees ranging from £150 to £1,750.

Christina McKelvie, SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, has raised the matter in the Scottish Parliament saying the proposals are an attack on fundamental employment rights, and particularly on the rights of lower paid workers.

Ms McKelvie claimed that the new rules will threaten the ability of workers to seek justice if they are treated unfairly at work.

Commenting, the SNP MSP said:

“Forcing someone to pay before they can even have their case heard is an unacceptable watering down of basic employment rights.

“Every worker should be able to seek justice and redress if they have been badly treated by their employer, and this plan by the UK government will make that significantly more difficult, particularly for low paid workers.

“If an employment case can be solved through arbitration or mediation that’s great, but this is not what these measures are about.  These proposals are a classic example of the Tories reverting to type, attacking the rights of workers and weighting the balance unfairly against them.”

Employment tribunals are currently under the control of the UK Government.  Parts of the tribunal system are in the process of being devolved to Scotland, but decisions on charging will be retained at Westminster.

Ms McKelvie argued that the UK Government should instead have sought to address poor employment practices and claimed that the new system would lessen the ability to tackle rogue employers who treat workers unfairly.

Calling for all employment tribunal powers to be devolved to Scotland she added:

“I am confident that if employment tribunals were fully devolved to Scotland, the SNP government would ensure that access to them remain free and accessible to all who need them.  It is clear that the rights of ordinary employees are not safe under this Tory-led Westminster coalition.  The sooner we have full control over employment law in Scotland, the better.”

Scottish Government Community Safety Minister Roseanna Cunningham told Parliament that the UK Government’s proposals: “could have a substantive effect on the most vulnerable employees.”