View from the House: John Cryer, MP for Leyton and Wanstead
PUBLISHED: 09:00 05 August 2017
Employment tribunals are a vital element of access to justice
Last week the government yielded to a Supreme Court decision regarding Employment Tribunal fees. This is excellent news for working people and anyone who believes in access to justice.
When it legislated to start charging employees fees of £400-£1,200 to access Employment Tribunals, the government claimed that it wanted to reduce the number of unfounded or superfluous claims. In reality it simply wanted to make it easier for firms to sack people. The introduction of fees saw a 79per cent reduction in the number of claims. Around the same time as Chris Grayling introduced these draconian fees, the then Chancellor George Osborne was toying with the ideas of no fault dismissals – allowing an employer to sack an employee on the basis of a personality clash – and “rights for shares”, whereby employees would be offered the chance to exchange some of their hard fought rights for a pay-off. At the same time it has presided over a massive casualisation in the labour market with workers in the “gig economy” still further removed from the rights we used to take for granted: maternity and paternity leave, sick pay and paid holidays.
Employment Tribunals set precedent based on common sense consideration of real life problems, creating common law. Statute law, devised in Parliament and far removed from the communities and workplaces it applies to, cannot function without this vital element of common sense law-making alongside it.