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Five-fold rise in workers taking their employers to tribunals

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The number of workers in Scotland taking employers to task in the Employment Tribunal over unfair pay and conditions has seen a five-fold increase after controversial Employment Tribunal fees were scrapped. The fee regime, which saw employees paying up to £1,200 to pursue a case, was scrapped in July last year following a Supreme Court ruling that the charges were unlawful. Current UK government figures show equal pay cases accounting for the bulk of claims – an increase of 360%. Unfair dismissal claims also increased by 84% over the period, while sex discrimination claims went up by almost 50% and disability discrimination claims increased by 100%.

Trade union Unison, which led the legal fight against the fees, said that the rise showed just how vital free access to justice is for workers. However, this increase in claims has prompted concerns that the tribunal service is becoming “overwhelmed” by the influx. An HM Courts and Tribunals spokesperson said: “We are recruiting more tribunal judges and are improving ways of working to deal with the cases”.

When deciding on how best to deal with employee claims, and in light of the above, employers should take into account the increased likelihood of disaffected employees resorting to litigation and the current lengthy delays in the Tribunal process.