The facts speak for themselves. Since the Government introduced Tribunal Fees of on average £1250 per claim since July 2013, it has been reported that Tribunal claims are down by a massive 79%. There is no other explanation for this fall other than the introduction of fees alone. In essence, this means that 79% more employers are now at liberty to behave unscrupulously and fear no reprisals. The signal this sends to employers is worrying.
The fear alone of these large fees puts off the majority of Claimants from taking legal advice, who at that time are without work, without income and at a particularly vulnerable point in their lives.
The remission scheme designed to meet the fees for people who cannot afford them is intentionally burdensome, onerous and simply not fit for purpose. Almost all remission claims made are rejected in the first instance. The fact that the standard rejection form used has 28 boxes for various reasons for rejection speaks for itself. Claimants are asked to provide bank statements that are forensically examined. If you have more than £3000 in life savings you don’t qualify for remission at all. If claimants legitimately receive state benefits, but of the wrong type, they don’t get automatic remission. In short, Claimants simply get fed up, give up, forget it and become one of the 79%.
As for the economic argument, I doubt the fees have actually made any net income given the massive fall-off in anticipated revenue coupled with the huge costs of setting up the administration of the fee and remission system.
At the same time as these fees came into force, somewhat less well publicised, the Government also served employers another huge banquet by introducing a cap on unfair dismissal damages from over £74K, to a year pay, whichever is less. This has had a huge impact on those Claimants with claims valued at in excess of a year’s pay – such as those with large pension losses or those older workers with poor re-employment prospects and large future losses. In either case, their claims are dramatically reduced saving unscrupulous employers thousands.
In essence, the new employment law landscape gives employers the green light to behave however they want in the knowledge that there is only a 21% chance they will ever be challenged and even if they are, the financial penalty has been softened for them.
The Government must re-think this bad law quickly. Every month that passes, thousands more people are being denied access to justice in the most shocking way.
Dean Morris, Solicitor