The Scottish Government has confirmed its commitment to abolishing controversial fees for employment tribunals.
The First Minister's Programme for Government outlines plans to scrap the fees, which many have claimed are denying workers access to justice, using new powers included in the Scotland Bill.
The move has been welcomed by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), who had called for the fees to be abolished along with unions and many in the legal profession.
The Programme for Government document, published yesterday, states: “We will abolish fees for employment tribunals when we are clear on how the transfer of powers and responsibilities will work.
“We will consult on the shape of services that can best support people’s access to employment justice as part of the transfer of the powers for Employment Tribunals to Scotland.”
The fees were introduced in July 2013 and mean workers have to pay between £160 or £250 to lodge a claim, depending on its complexity, and a further charge of £230 or £950 if the case goes to a hearing.
CAS legal affairs spokesperson Lauren Wood said: “The evidence shows that people have been deterred from taking their grievances to tribunal because they simply can’t afford to pay the fee.
“Let’s be clear what we are talking about here. Employment Tribunals regularly include cases where people have been un-paid or under-paid for work they have done, or cases where they have been mistreated – including bullying, racism, sexual harassment.
“People who have suffered such treatment surely have a right to justice, and that right should not be based on their ability to pay.
“One of the most worrying aspects of this current situation is that it has altered the balance of power at work, with rogue employers now feeling they can exploit or mistreat their employees without risk of being called to account.
“So we are delighted that the government has addressed this issue, and has seen the urgency in putting it right. These fees should never have been introduced, and they need to be scrapped as soon as possible.”