Unions, legal networks and rights organisations have criticised the Government’s decision to reintroduce employment tribunal fees.

In a joint statement, 48 organisations called on the Government to urgently reconsider its plans.

The groups warned that introducing fees will encourage exploitation of workers, saying: “We believe this will deter many from lodging worthy claims and gives a green light to bad employers to exploit their workers.

“Bad employers are being given the go-ahead to undercut good ones, safe in the knowledge they are less likely to face claims in the employment tribunal.

“Employment rights are only real if they are enforced.

“Tribunal fees risk pricing many workers out of workplace justice.”

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said working people should be able to enforce their rights.

“Introducing fees for tribunals puts yet another hurdle in the way of those seeking justice at their most vulnerable moment.

“The Conservatives have already tried this and failed.

“Last time they introduced tribunal fees, claims dropped by two-thirds, and the Supreme Court threw fees out, saying they interfered with access to justice.

“That should have been the nail in the coffin for these cynical plans, but ministers have decided to side with bad bosses over workers and resurrect employment tribunal fees.

“Employment tribunal fees give employers a pass to exploit workers, whether it’s discrimination, unfair sackings or withheld wages.”

Rosalind Bragg, director at Maternity Action Group, said: “Charging fees for employment tribunal claims puts the justice system out of reach for women at a time when they are most in need of protection.”

Organisations signing the statement included the TUC, Citizens Advice, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Fawcett Society, Maternity Action, Women’s Budget Group and Liberty.