Employment tribunal costs could prevent hearing for aggrieved ex-NHS worker

Marc Ewen
Marc Ewen
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A man who claims he unfairly lost his job with a Sheffield NHS health trust says the cost of employment tribunals means his case may never be heard.

Marc Ewen is in the process of taking action against Sheffield Health & Social Care Trust, who he worked for last year.

Mr Ewen, aged 43 and from Hillsborough, says he was let go at the end of an initial three-month contract with the trust after he raised concerns about how service users were being treated.

His claims are denied by the trust, who say they intend to ‘rigorously contest’ what he has alleged at the potential tribunal.

Fees to take cases to employment tribunals were introduced by the Government in July 2013, with individuals needing to pay up to £1,200 to take a case to a hearing.

The Ministry of Justice say the aim of the fees is to get workers and companies to use ‘quicker and simpler alternatives’ such as mediation and arbitration to settle cases, with full hearings only being used as a ‘last resort’.

But Mr Ewen says he has exhausted such avenues with the trust and cannot match their financial resources and ability to use lawyers if the case went to a tribunal.

He said he is struggling to afford the fees needed to take his case to a hearing.

Mr Ewen said: “I have had to pay £250 for the application fee. It is £950 next to get a hearing. I haven’t got the money to be quite honest.

“This is about people being held to account.

“I can’t seek redress without borrowing some money or someone giving me £1,000.

“The message this sends out if you find yourself in a David versus Goliath situation, then David is not going to win.”

Last year, research from Citizens Advice said the introduction of fees had resulted in 70 per cent of potentially successful cases not being pursued to employment tribunals

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said at the time: “The risk of not being paid, even if successful, means for many the Employment Tribunal is just not an option.”

A spokesman for Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust said “An ex-employee has made a number of allegations regarding his employment with the Trust. Appropriate investigations into these allegations have taken place. The Trust intends to rigorously contest the claims at the Tribunal Hearing.

“As a result of the ongoing proceedings, it is not appropriate for the Trust to comment further at this time.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We want people to resolve issues using quicker and simpler alternatives such as arbitration and mediation and only go to court as a last resort.”