Fees for workers who want to take their employer to an employment tribunal come into effect from today.
Unions have attacked the Government scheme which could force employees to pay up to £1,200 to make a claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.
Unite has vowed to pay the legal fees of its members, while the GMB is staging a protest against the new rules outside an employment tribunal in central London.
Workers will be charged one fee to bring a claim, another fee if it is heard and a further charge if they want to appeal the decision.
Smaller claims such as unpaid wages will cost £160 to lodge and another £230 if they proceed. Larger ones like unfair dismissal will cost an initial £250 and then another £950.
The Government says the move will take some of the £74m cost of workplace disputes away from the taxpayer.
But Unite chief Len McCluskey said: “Seeking redress for unfair dismissal and discrimination and other injustices in the workplace is a fundamental human right – but now ministers are putting up insurmountable financial hurdles for working people in pursuit of justice.
“We estimate that this will affect 150,000 workers a year. This is not an aid to economic recovery but a means to keep working people frightened and insecure.”
Justice Minister Helen Grant said: “It’s important that we try to reduce the financial burden on the taxpayer. It costs £74m per annum to run the employment tribunal system and we genuinely feel that users who can afford to contribute should do so.”
“We will monitor the impact very, very carefully on women and other individuals with protected characteristics to ensure that justice and fairness is done and if it is not done, of course we will look at it again.”
For more information about the new Employment Tribunal rules call PM Law in Sheffield on 0114 2965444.