Matthew Taylor report: Government should look at reducing the cost of employment tribunal fees

It comes as Mr Taylor publishes his long-awaited report into employment rights and protections of workers in Britain's gig economy

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 11 July 2017 09:48
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Matthew Taylor calls on Government to look at reducing cost of employment tribunal fees

Government officials should look at reducing the cost of employment tribunal fees, according to Matthew Taylor, who today publishes a long-awaited review into employment rights of workers in the gig economy.

Mr Taylor, a former policy chief to Tony Blair and chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, made the comments as his nine month-long review – ordered by Theresa May’s administration –laid out seven principles for “fair and decent work” in Britain and recommended a crack down on “insecure” and “exploitative” conditions.

But in recent months the Government’s policies towards advancing workers’ rights have come under heavy criticism due to employment tribunal fees that critics say prevent employees from enforcing their rights and taking bosses who violate employment law to court due to the cost.

Since the fees were introduced in 2013 by the coalition government, it has been claimed that there has been a “precipitate drop” of almost 70 per cent in the number of cases being brought – it can cost as much as £1,200 simply to bring a claim.

Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether employment tribunal fees should be abolished, Mr Taylor replied: “What we’re suggesting is that there will be a new free process of employment tribunal where anyone can find out what their status is. We’re saying everyone should be able to have a free judgement on whether or not they have those rights in the first place before they proceed with the case."

Pressed again on whether people will still have to pay the tribunal fees, he added: “Yes. We recognise in the report that like a lot of people, including employment organisations, that it would be better if those fees weren’t so high and we encourage the Government to continue to look at that issue.”

Under the current system, claim fees for unpaid wages, redundancy pay and breach of contract can set a worker back £160 plus an additional £230 for a hearing fee. For other claims, such as unfair dismissal, equal pay, discrimination and whistle blowing, the claim fee is £250 plus £950 for the hearing.

Mr Taylor also rejected calls to recommend the Government bans zero hours contracts in his review because it was “clear that many people work zero hours choose to work that way because it suits them”.

His comments on BBC Radio 4 came as Frances O’Grady, the general secretary of the TUC, said the report “is not the game-changer needed to end insecurity and exploitation at work” while Thompsons’ Solicitor branded the recommendations as “feeble”.

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey added: “Put simply, today's Taylor report shows that Theresa May is failing working people across the country.

“If they were serious about workers' rights they are welcome to borrow from Labour's manifesto. Our 20-point plan would truly transform the world of work, providing security, rights and protection for millions of working people.

“There are now 4.5 million people in insecure work, hundreds of thousands not being paid the money owed to them, and hundreds of complaints of employment agency malpractice going uninvestigated.

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