PUNITIVE fees for employment tribunals are allowing bad bosses to get away with shocking treatment of workers, figures revealed yesterday show.
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 trifling £18,000.
Green MP Caroline Lucas, who obtained the figures through a parliamentary question, said the government should have netted some £7m 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.
Ms 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.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told the Star that tribunal fees are “pricing workers out of justice and have created a barrier to basic rights at work.”
She said: “Employment tribunal fees provide comfort to bad bosses, who know that many of their employees simply can’t afford to bring claims against them.”
The figures were revealed shortly after ministers said no criminal prosecutions had been brought against 700 employers “named and shamed” for failing to pay the minimum wage since 2013.
Labour peer Lord Beecham, former leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “When you compare the government’s attitude to benefit claimants there seems to be a world of difference between the likes of I, Daniel Blake and the treatment of employers who don’t pay either the amounts awarded in tribunal cases, or the minimum wage.”
A government spokesman said: “We continue to assess the impact of fees and will publish our review in due course.”
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