According to an analysis of government figures by the TUC, the number of people challenging discrimination or unfair treatment at work has fallen by 9,000 a month since the introduction of tribunal fees.
The analysis shows that in 2012/13 (the year before tribunal fees were introduced) almost 192,000 people brought tribunal claims. By 2015/2016, that figure had dropped to just over 83,000 claims.
That translates to about 16,000 people per month, on average, who brought a tribunal claim against their employer in 2012/2013. However by 2015/16, the average number of people bringing claims had dropped to 7,000 a month.
This includes a drop of nearly three-quarters (minus 73 per cent) for unfair dismissal claims, along with sharp falls in sex discrimination (minus 71 per cent), race discrimination (minus 58 per cent) and disability discrimination claims (minus 54 per cent). The number of single claim cases fell by 69 per cent between 2012/13 and 2015/16; while the number of multiple claim cases (where more than one person brings a claim against the same employer) fell by 79 per cent.
In June 2015/16 the Justice Select Committee carried out a review of court and tribunal fees, in which it concluded that “the regime of employment tribunal fees has had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims”. It concluded that if the choice was between income from fees and access to justice, then the latter must prevail.
The TUC is calling on the government to publish a review that was due to be issued at the end of 2015 as a matter of urgency, and for fees to be abolished in this month’s Autumn Statement.
Under the current fees system, workers have to pay up to £1,200 to bring a claim to tribunal, including minimum wage workers if a member of their household has
savings of £3,000.
Neil Todd, of Thompsons Solicitors, added; "The introduction of employment tribunal fees has deterred many in the workplace from bringing claims in circumstances where they have been unfairly dismissed, discriminated against or not paid what they what they are legally entitled to.
This not only leads to many workers being treated unjustly but also contributes to a culture where employers think it is perfectly acceptable to breach the rights of workers as they realise that in many cases there will be no consequences for doing so. Fees should be abolished with immediate effect".
To read the TUC analysis in full, go to: https://www.tuc.org.uk/equality-issues/industrial-issues/discrimination-work-allowed-%E2%80%9Cflourish-unchecked%E2%80%9D-employment