Employment tribunal claims have plummeted by more than 9,000 a month, the Trades Union Congress has said, warning that steep fees have allowed discrimination at work to ‘flourish unchecked’.
TUC analysis of government figures shows that 83,031 claims were brought in 2015/16, down from 191,541 in 2012/13. Over the four-year period the number of single-claim cases has fallen by 69%; multiple-claim cases (where more than one person brings a claim against the same employer) has fallen by 79%.
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.’
A further breakdown of Ministry of Justice figures show that 12,652 unfair dismissal claims were brought in 2015/16, down from 49,036 in 2012/13. Sex discrimination claims fell from 18,814 in 2012/13 to 5,371 in 2015/16. There were 2,001 race discrimination claims in 2015/16 compared to 4,818 in 2012/13. Disability discrimination claims fell from 7,492 to 2012/13 to 3,468 in 2015/16.
Figures for 2015/16 show that conciliation service Acas was notified of more than 90,000 disputes, but 65% of these were not settled by Acas nor progress to an employment tribunal.
O’Grady said: ‘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.’
Last month the ministry was asked by Dawn Butler, Labour MP for Brent Central, what progress the department had made on its review of the effect of the introduction of employment tribunal fees, and whether a fixed publication date would be issued for the review.
Justice minister Sir Oliver Heald responded last week that the review ‘is making good progress and I expect to announce its conclusions in due course’.