Employment tribunals have considered 70% fewer claims since the government introduced fees – meaning that thousands of workers are being denied justice, UNISON told MPs this week.
Legal officer Shantha David gave oral evidence to the House of Commons justice select committee, as it investigates the effects of tribunal fees, and their size, in England, Wales and Scotland.
Ms David told the committee that the imposition of fees “has created a more inefficient system whilst simultaneously denying access to justice to some of the poorest and most vulnerable workers in our society.
“Indeed, the fees and remission thresholds set are now deterring people from even considering the possibility of legal action against their employer when they have been unfairly treated.
“The fact that only 9% of claimants received their fees back when government predicted in 2012 that this would be as high as 53% shows that the system is not delivering for working people.”
Evidence provided by UNISON and other witnesses showed that there has been a 70% drop in the number of claims since fees were introduced in 2013.
At the same time, the amount of money raised by fees is estimated to contribute just 12.5% toward the cost of the tribunal system – with no government estimate of the cost of administering them.
“Workers who have been treated badly at work are being denied access to justice, day after day, simply because they don’t have the money to take a case,” commented UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis.
“Our fight for fairness at work and access to justice will continue until these unfair and punitive fees are scrapped,” he added.
“It is vital that workers have access to a statutory system that protects their employment rights.”