Removal of fees leads to a rise in tribunals for Wigan Council

Lisa Selby
Lisa Selby

Dozens of people have taken Wigan Council to employment tribunals in the past two years, Government figures have revealed.

In the past two years, 38 individuals have taken action against the town hall, the majority of which have “withdrawn” before proceedings have begun.

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Back in February alone, 26 people were involved in a joint tribunal against Wigan Council, proceedings which were ultimately cancelled before the case reached a judge.

A “withdrawal” usually takes place if the claimants change their mind or if the disagreement is settled outside of court.

Council chiefs say they have seen a noticeable increase in employees or former employees calling for tribunal action since the government’s removal of fees back in 2017.

Lisa Selby, assistant director for HR and organisational development at Wigan Council, said: “We can’t comment on individual cases but have recognised that there is an increase in submissions since tribunal fees have been removed.

“We work hard to support staff to ensure they have a voice and feel able to report issues to us.

“We also try and resolve issues before they get to the tribunal stage.”

Since February 2017, there have been around 30 other tribunals brought by Wiganers, but all of these are against different companies.

Wigan Council makes up the majority of employment hearings.

Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - a public body which improves organisations and working life - said last year that it had seen a 39 per cent increase in tribunals since the government removed the fee.

In July 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that the government’s previous tribunal fees were “unlawful”, leading them to be removed.

Before the changes, since 2013, it would cost a claimant £250 to make a claim and an additional £950 fee if the claim got to the tribunal stage.

The government is now allowing anyone who has paid the tribunal fees in the past to apply for a refund.