Tribunal Fees to be abolished in Scotland?
If you work in the HR or employment law arena then you are unlikely to have missed the news last week that one of the Scottish Government’s pledges for the next Parliamentary year is to abolish Tribunal fees .
These fees were introduced in July 2013 and have been a constant source of debate since; with some saying they are justified through reducing the backlogs of cases through the courts whilst others saying they allow employers to make unlawful decisions and deny access to justice.
What are the plans?
At this stage it is a proposal which stipulates that more will be known once the Scottish Government gains additional information on how powers of this nature will be transferred to Holyrood under the Scottish Bill. The amendments to this particular aspect of employment law could be further reaching than just the removal of fees, with the Scottish Government vowing to increase fairness at work. The timeline itself for when this may be rolled out is therefore also presently unknown.
What will it mean?
Nothing is certain but it would not be too wild a guess to suggest that the number of claims going through the Scottish tribunal courts will rise and the back-logs will begin to take effect again . Access to justice is an important cornerstone of everyone’s Human Rights, however this must be balanced to ensure the judicial system is fit to carry out its purpose and lay down this lawfulness.
It may also mean that England and Wales take up a different position from Scotland on this matter. The Trade Union Unison has been challenging tribunal fees though the English courts and recently hit another stumbling block in their bid to have tribunal fees overturned. Whilst Unison is set to appeal this decision and the UK Government themselves will review the set-up, which may mean a change to fees in England and Wales in the future, at present fees are set to remain there for the time-being.
At Gravitate HR, we work with our clients and their employees to ensure the policies, procedures and practices are in place to minimise the risk of their employment issues ever seeing the inside of a tribunal court. If you would like to find out more information on our services or discuss how Gravitate HR might support your business please call Neil on 0131 243 1379.