Figures published by the TUC last week have revealed that there has been a fall in the number of claims being brought to employment tribunal, by an average of 9,000 a month.
Employment tribunal fees were introduced in 2013, and can cost up to £1,200 for a person to bring a claim against an employer.
In the year 2012 to 2013, the year before the fees were introduced, an average 16,000 people per month took a claim against their employer to tribunal. But in the year 2015 to 2016, this number had fallen to just 7,000 a month.
Further breakdown of the figures reveals that there has been a fall of 73 per cent in claims for unfair dismissal – down from 49,036 in 2012/13 to 12,652 in 2015/16 – 58 per cent for race discrimination, 54 per cent for disability discrimination, and a 71 per cent drop for claims of for sex discrimination.
Analysis of government figures showed that the total number of claims brought each year has fallen from 191,541 in 2012/13 to 83,031 in 2015/16. Over this four-year period the number of single claim cases has fallen by 69 per cent, and the number of multiple claim cases – where more than one person brings a claim against the same employer – has fallen by 79 per cent.
Figures for the year 2015 to 2016 show that ACAS, the conciliation service, was notified of more than 90,000 disputes but 65 per cent of these were not settled by ACAS, nor did they progress to an employment tribunal.
The Ministry of Justice had been due to publish a review into the impact of the fees in 2015. Justice minister Sir Oliver Heald responded to enquiries last week, saying that the review would be concluded in due course.
The TUC has called on Prime Minister Theresa May and Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond to abolish fees in this month’s Autumn Statement.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “These figures show a huge drop in workers seeking justice when they’ve been unfairly treated. Now bosses know they can get away with it, discrimination at work can flourish unchecked and people can be sacked without good reason.
“The evidence is there for all to see. These fees – of up to £1,200, even if you’re on the minimum wage – are pricing out thousands each month from pursuing cases.
“Theresa May has repeatedly said she wants to govern for ordinary working people. Here is a perfect opportunity. She could reverse employment tribunal fees, and make sure workers can challenge bad employers in court.”