Tribunal fees let bad bosses off the hook

Written By: James Douglas
Published: February 11, 2017 Last modified: February 11, 2017

Punitive fees for employment tribunals are allowing bad bosses to get away with shocking treatment of workers.

New regulations giving employment tribunals powers to fine rule-breaking employers for “aggravating factors” in unfair dismissal cases have led to just 18 fines since April 2014.
Ministers expected the rules to generate £2.8 million a year, but so far bosses have only been told to cough up a mere £18,000.

Green MP Caroline Lucas, who obtained the figures through a parliamentary question, said the government should have netted some £7 million by now if its predictions had been right.
She said the £18,000 probably wouldn’t even cover the time seemingly wasted by MPs and peers scrutinising the penalties in 2012 and 2013.

Lucas said the “most likely explanation” for the small number of payouts awarded were the prohibitive £1,200 fees introduced in 2013 for workers claiming unfair dismissals.

They “have eradicated exactly the kind of tribunal claim that ministers had in mind when they came up with the idea: a relatively low-value claim, because the claimant is low-paid, against a rogue, exploitative employer,” she said.

“It seems that bad employers are getting away with poor practices, and that justice isn’t being done. It’s clear that the government must immediately publish the review on employment tribunal fees, on which it has been sitting for 15 months — there is simply no excuse for further delay.”