CIPD: “Women and low-paid workers worst hit by introduction of fees. The introduction of employment tribunal fees has been a “huge victory” for Britain’s worst bosses and has led to a sharp decline in the number of claims, according to the TUC. Since the introduction of fees of up to £1,200 in July 2013, the number of claims brought to tribunal has fallen 79 per cent.
Just 9,801 claims were made to employment tribunals between October and December 2013, compared to 45,710 claims submitted in the same period in 2012, and numbers have continued to fall according to latest figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
In its latest report – At what price justice? – the TUC says many vulnerable groups are being “priced out of justice,” with women and low-paid workers noted as most affected.
Over the last year, there has been an 80 per cent fall in the number of women pursuing sex discrimination claims, with just 1,222 females taking claims between January and March 2014, compared to 6,017 in 2013.
The number of women pursuing pregnancy discrimination claims is also down by 26 per cent, despite evidence of widespread discrimination against mothers-to-be.
The TUC said these findings were “highly predictable” as “women are more likely to work part-time, in lower paid jobs and are therefore less able to afford high-level fees.”
The union suggests that women are also missing out on financial help with the costs of a tribunal because of tighter eligibility restrictions.
Under measures introduced in October 2013, eligibility for fees remission is now calculated on the joint household income, rather than individual earnings, and households with savings of £3,000 or more are no longer entitled to any remission.
Just 24 per cent of workers who applied for financial assistance to take claims received any form of fee remittance, the TUC report shows.
“Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said. “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.”
Commenting on the report, the MoJ said it stuck by its original aim to transfer the cost of running tribunals from the taxpayer to the users of the system.
“It cannot be right that hardworking taxpayers should pick up the bill for employment disputes in tribunals. It is reasonable to expect people to pay towards the £74m bill taxpayers’ face for providing the service,” Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said.
“But it is important to emphasise that the Government has been very careful in ensuring that those who have limited mean have fee waivers and are not excluded from seeking redress in tribunals.
“The Government is on the side of people who want to work hard and get on. We have already reduced unemployment to the lowest level in five years, and created more than two million extra jobs in the private sector since 2010,” he added.