Tribunal fees have resulted in a 79% drop in sex discrimination claims

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Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses, according to a new TUC report published to mark the one year anniversary of the new charges.

The report – What Price Justice?– shows how since the introduction of fees in July 2013 there has been a 79 per cent fall in overall claims taken to employment tribunals, with women and low-paid workers the worst affected.

What Price Justice? analyses the latest Ministry of Justice statistics and reveals the following key findings:

  • Women are among the biggest losers – there has been an 80 per cent fall in the number of women pursuing sex discrimination claims. Just 1,222 women took out claims between January and March 2014, compared to 6,017 over the same period in 2013.
  • The number of women pursuing pregnancy discrimination claims is also down by over a quarter (26 per cent), with just 3 per cent of women seeking financial compensation after losing their jobs.
  • Race and disability claims have plummeted – during the first three months of 2014 the number of race discrimination and sexual orientation claims both fell by 60 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. Disability claims have experienced a 46 per cent year-on-year reduction.
  • Workers are being cheated out of wages – there has been a 70 per cent drop in workers pursuing claims for non-payment of the national minimum wage. Claims for unpaid wages and holiday pay have fallen overall by 85 per cent. The report says that many people are being put off making a claim, because the cost of going to a tribunal is often more expensive than the sum of their outstanding wages. 
  • Low-paid workers are being priced out – only 24 per cent of workers who applied for financial assistance to take claims received any form of fee remittance. Even workers employed on the minimum wage face fees of up to £1,200 if a member of their household has savings of £3,000.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses. “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.

“Tribunal fees are part of a wider campaign to get rid of workers’ basic rights. The consequence has been to price low-paid and vulnerable people out of justice.”

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4 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. I was led to understand that if the claim as successful, the claimant got the original deposit back, along with any monies awarded . So I am at a loss to understand why the fee is a detriment to just and/or suitable claims, no matter what the amount being claimed.
    Could it be that the deposit is deterring unjust and/or unwarranted claims and is being used as an excuse for not claiming??

  2. Hugely unbalanced article – my experience is that a lot of claimants tick the discrimination box either because they haven’t got enough service to put in a straight unfair dismissal claim or because they think their claim will have more merit. In most cases, there was no merit or evidence and that aspect was dropped.

    I wasn’t convinced that the fees would reduce claims (clearly I was wrong), but our claims have certainly gone down and it is rare now to get one that cites discrimination. I’m sure that the fees have deterred some genuine claimants but they have quite clearly also had the effect of weeding out those who have been quite fairly dismissed, can’t find another job and want some money. The pure numbers cannot tell us which is which so talk of potential claimants being cheated or being losers is just playing to the gallery.

    There is also no mention of the fact that the economy has picked up and there are now more jobs available – the reality is that people are more likely to put in a claim (however spurious) when they can’t find alternative employment. We have often had claims that are dropped as soon as the individual finds alternative employment.

  3. I did some research on DDA cases in 2005-6 and 91% of disability claims did not progress to a hearing. Among these 91% were cases that were ‘withdrawn’, ‘claimant failed to attend’, ‘claimant failed to provide information’ as well as claims that were settled. I was unable to get statistics for the numbers that fell by the wayside because there was no realistic chance of winning, but these statistics suggest the numbers were high. The drop in applications by 46% is likely to simply reflect the numbers that were just trying their luck with no realistic chance of winning, so the winners here are the employers who don’t have to prepare unnecessarily, and society who doesn’t have to fund tribunal costs unnecessarily. Employees aren’t losing anything; they are more likely to be gaining simply because they will not be stressed by the process of applying, or by the feeling of unfairness that will be reinforced by the application process. It is a win-win situation. The only losers are the lawyers.

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