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As widely reported in the press this week, in Eweida & Others v UK in the European Court of Human Rights, under Article 9 of the Human Rights Convention:
a) BA cabin crew should be able to wear discrete crucifixes;
b) A hospital worker should not wear a crucifix if health and safety interests outweighed the right to freedom of religion;
c) UK courts could reasonably conclude that a Registrar should not refuse to officiate same-sex civil partnerships and;
d) UK courts could conclude that a Relate counsellor should not refuse to work with same sex couples.
All clear then? Despite the Court’s guidance, no doubt litigation will continue on this kind of contentious issue.
The Cost of Justice:
Unlike the civil courts, it costs nothing for Claimants to submit Tribunal claims, and many employers feels that that encourages have-a-go Claimants with nothing to lose. That is about to change.
Later this year government plan to introduce fees for Claimants bringing Tribunal claims which could be up to £250 to issue claims and up to £950 for a hearing fee.
The government states ‘It is not the aim of the policy to deter claims through the introduction of fees; it is our aim that those who can afford to pay should make a contribution towards the cost.’
Who can afford to pay these fees though? A good number of Claimants are unemployed. The government also comments that it will ‘ensure that the remissions system provides that those who can afford to pay a fee do so’. In other words over-worked Tribunal administrators will soon have to process hundreds of applications for exemptions from the fees from unemployed Claimants.
Whilst many employers will welcome this proposal, it may yet prove costly and difficult for the Tribunals to administer. We will keep you posted on developments.
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