Employment tribunal claims down drastically after fees were introduced
One year ago, in July 2013, the Government introduced fees for bringing a claim to employment tribunal. Sexual harassment, unfair dismissal and discrimination claims now cost claimants £1,200. Claims to recover unpaid wages or holiday pay cost the employees £390. This has, unsurprisingly, had a major impact on the number of claims processed by the tribunal courts. HMCTS tribunals recorded 84,700 receipts in the period January to March 2014. This is 67% lower than the same period of 2013, and the lowest receipts since this statistical series began in 2008/09.
Sexual harassment claims down by 80%
Between January and March 2014, just 1,222 sex discrimination claims were made to an employment tribunal, compared to 6,017 in the same quarter in 2013. This represents a fall of 80 per cent. The TUC’s explanation for this trend is that “women are more likely to work part-time in lower paid jobs and are therefore less able to afford high level fees. Many women also lose out on fee remissions because of their partner’s earnings. This is because eligibility for fee remission is calculated on the basis of household rather than individual income. This approach assumes that in most households resources are pooled and shared. It also means that many women will need to seek the agreement of their partner before taking their employer to a tribunal.”
Only 24% granted fee remissions
The MoJ estimated in June 2013 that 23.9 per cent of all claimants would receive full remission from fees and that a further 53 per cent would benefit from discounts on fees of up to £950. Provisional data provided by the MoJ however shows that only 24 per cent of individuals applying for remissions had any or all of their fees remitted.
The TUC had predicted before the fees were introduced that 22% of UK households with one or more workers earning the national minimum wage would not be entitled to any fee remission but would have to pay the full £1,200 for a dismissal or discrimination claim. An even higher proportion of 36% of such households were estimated ineligible for remissions on the £390 fee for unpaid wage claims.
Claims for unpaid wages declined by 85%
Unsurprisingly, based on the above prediction, the statistics published in June 2014 revealed a marked decline in claims for unpaid wages (down by 85 per cent). These often involve low-value claims brought by low paid workers. Many workers, who are already out of pocket due to the actions of their employers, simply cannot afford to pay £390 in tribunal fees.
A huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses. By charging up-front fees for harassment and abuse claims the government has made it easier for bad employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour. Tribunal fees are part of a wider campaign to get rid of workers’ basic rights. The consequence has been to price low-paid and vulnerable people out of justice.”