Independent research carried out by the conciliation service ACAS lays bare the damage done to the justice system by introducing Employment Tribunal fees, says Thompsons Solicitors
Illustrating the corrosive impact of Tribunal Fees on access to justice, a new report by ACAS shows that 20% of workers admit to withdrawing their case due to record-high up-front costs, and that almost 40% of workers who are entitled to some help in paying the fees would be discouraged from bringing their case if those remissions were unavailable.
Employment Tribunal fees were introduced in July 2013 under the coalition government and led to a 70% decrease in the number of cases brought to the Employment Tribunal, with claims concerning unauthorised deductions of wages, sex discrimination and equal pay particularly badly affected. The introduction of fees was supported by the Liberal Democrats on the promise that there would be a review of their impact. However, while this review was due to be published by the end of 2015, under the current government this has not yet happened.
According to Thompsons, the ACAS report is another damning indictment on the government’s moves to charge working people to access the justice system.
Commenting on the report, Iain Birrell, Member of Thompsons Solicitors’ Trade Union Law Group said: “It is clear that fees are dramatically undermining the right of people on low and average wages to bring a case when they have borne the brunt of the shoddy, illegal or discriminatory behaviour of their employer. This has been apparent since fees were brought in in 2013 and ACAS’s report confirms this even further.
"It's high time that the government admitted that the introduction of fees for Employment Tribunals has been extremely harmful: people with entirely valid cases, who before were entitled to a fair hearing without having to pay, are being priced out. We want to see the full impact report published by this government, warts and all, with a proper response that addresses these concerns in full.
"If justice hinges on one’s ability to pay, the credibility of our justice system is left in tatters."