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Tribunal numbers plummet 79% as fees start to bite

Goverment measures deliberately aimed at depriving working people of their rights have prevented thousands from seeking justice

Goverment measures deliberately aimed at depriving working people of their rights have prevented thousands from seeking justice through employment tribunals, new figures show.

The number of disputes which reached tribunal stage fell by a staggering 79 per cent between October and December last year, compared with the same period in 2012.

The fall coincided with the Con-Dems' introduction of hefty charges for workers wishing to have their cases heard.

It now costs £250 to lodge a claim with tribunal hearings charged at between £960 and £1,060.

Unions said the statistics supported their warnings that workers would be discouraged from taking claims for unfair dismissal and other complaints to an employment tribunal.

GMB's legal officer Maria Ludkin said: "These figures confirm our fears that government changes to time limits and the introduction of fees have had a devastating impact on access to justice for working people."

She argued that workers were being "priced out" of tribunals.

"We predicted that this would happen but it fell on deaf ears in a government made up of the multi-millionaire elite," she added.

Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Kiran Daurka said: "Whilst this is a depressing statistic, it is not surprising to us. We rightly feared that the introduction of fees would be a substantial hurdle to accessing justice for everyday workers and employees, and our concerns have been borne out."

Ms Daurka warned that the groups most disadvantaged by the fees are mothers and disabled workers - already among the most discriminated against groups in the workplace.

"The government sought to justify the fees by stating that they would weed out unreasonable claims, but we can see that the fees have deterred a large number of claims, including genuine claims that should have been commenced in the tribunal.

"The fees have had a very detrimental impact on wronged workers who are now unable to seek justice," she added.

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