The TUC has yesterday (Monday) slammed new laws that will force employees to pay upfront fees if they want to pursue a sexual harassment or race discrimination complaint against their employer.
From today it will cost someone £1,200 if they want to take their boss to an employment tribunal hearing for sexually harassing them. Worker’s facing racist abuse will also face the same barriers to justice, says the TUC.
Employees will also have to pay fees for all other employment tribunal claims such as unfair dismissal, discrimination or non-payment of the minimum wage.
The TUC believes these reforms will deter victims from coming forward and force them to suffer in silence.
The TUC says the measures are part of a wider campaign by the government to reduce people’s basic rights at work and stop bad bosses from being held to account. Other measures introduced today include ‘settlement agreements’ that will make it easier and cheaper for an employer to get rid of someone.
The government has already raised the qualifying period for an employee to take an unfair dismissal claim to two years. This means that nearly three million employees can be sacked on a whim if they have been employed for less than two years.
While the government’s plans for tribunal fees include a ‘remission scheme’ which will make some of the lowest paid exempt from the proposed costs, the TUC believes that a substantial proportion of workers who are on the minimum wage will still be required to pay fees to take a case to an employment tribunal.
This is because the test for the ability to pay will be based on household income rather than an individual’s earnings. This assumes that all household income is shared equally between a couple. The TUC does not agree that a woman’s capacity to enforce her individual rights should depend on her partner’s income.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Today is a great day for Britain’s worst bosses. By charging up-front fees for harassment and abuse claims the government is making it easier for employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour.
‘These reforms are part of a wider campaign to get rid of workers’ basic rights at work. Its only achievement will be to price vulnerable people out of justice.’