Dramatic fall in tribunal claims shows ‘disastrous’ impact of fees

UNISON has today described as “shocking” new figures showing that Employment Tribunal claims have dropped by 79% in the first six months since the Government imposed fees on workers bringing a claim.
Official statistics show that the number of claims received in October to December 2013 was 9,801 – 79% fewer than in the same period of 2012, and down 75% on the period July to September 2013.
Sex discrimination claims have dropped by 77% compared to the same period in 2012 and by 82% compared to the previous quarter. And there have been 83% fewer equal pay claims compared to the same period in 2012 – 85% less than the previous quarter. 
UNISON challenged the Government’s decision to bring in fees for Employment Tribunals right from the start and in November last year argued in the High Court that the introduction of fees would restrict access to justice for workers and would therefore be unlawful. The High Court appeared to accept all the union’s arguments about the likely impact of the fees on barring access to justice for workers treated unfairly by employers, but ruled that more time was needed to fully assess the impact.
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said:
“The figures out today are shocking and the disastrous impact of tribunal fees is now blatantly obvious. The introduction of fees was unfair and they should be dropped, which is what we hope to argue in the Court of Appeal.
“Money should never be a barrier to justice, so it is deeply disturbing that this is exactly what is happening for thousands of workers since the fees were introduced.
“UNISON warned all along that tribunal fees would deny workers access to justice and these claims are being borne out already.”
The union wants to take the case further to allow the Court of Appeal to consider its arguments, in particular that the introduction of fees has a disproportionate impact on women.
Notes to Editors
Government’s quarterly report on Employment Tribunal statistics:
Fees start at around £160 to issue a claim, rising to £250 a claim depending on the type of claim; which a further hearing fee starting at £230 to £950. Where claims are issued by a group, issue fees range from £320 and £460 (hearing fee). For a simpler “Type A” claim with 2-10 claimants to £1500 (issue fee) and £5700 (hearing fee) for a more complex “Type B claim” with over 200 claimants.