The IWGB and the EHRC intervened in the case brought by Unison
The IWGB will be seeking back the thousands of pounds in fees that it has paid on behalf of its members.
26 July: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), the leading trade union for workers in the so-called “gig economy”, welcomes the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision stating that employment tribunal fees are in breach of British and EU laws.
The case was brought by public sector trade union Unison, with the IWGB and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) intervening.
The seven-judge panel found that the fees were discriminatory against women and other groups protected by the equality act.
“The IWGB welcomes today’s momentous decision. We have forked out a fortune on employment tribunal fees for our low-paid members who otherwise would not have been able to argue their cases,” said IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee. “Given the near total absence of government enforcement of employment law and the government’s refusal to get serious about addressing insecure work, today’s decision is a game changer. This is what justice looks like.”
The IWGB believed that it was vital that it intervene in this case in order to support the interests of its mostly low-paid members – including “gig economy” workers and cleaners – which are some of the groups that are most in need of the protection of the courts.
The elimination of employment tribunal fees is one of three policy proposals that the IWGB has been lobbying for to address the issues surrounding precarity in the so-called “gig economy”. The other two are government enforcement of employment law and an enhanced “worker” status, that would give self-employed workers the same rights as employees.
There are currently three employment statuses in the UK: Independent contractors, workers and employees.
The government previously said that it would pay back all fees paid since they were introduced in 2013, if the Supreme Court deemed them to be illegal. The IWGB will be seeking back the thousands of pounds in fees that it has paid on behalf of its members.
The IWGB has won a number of test cases before employment tribunals, including Dewhurst v CitySprint and Boxer v Excel. Other companies including The Doctors Laboratory and eCourier, voluntarily admitted that they were unlawfully classifying their workers as independent contractors, following legal action brought by the IWGB.
The IWGB is awaiting decisions on other landmark cases against Deliveroo and Addison Lee.
Over the years the union has also brought a number of discrimination, unfair dismissal and unlawful deduction of wages claims on behalf of its many migrant worker members.
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