Advice line: rights issue

The fight goes on to make employment tribunals more accessible, says Kate Moran.

Figures published by the Ministry of Justice in June have revealed that, as feared by CSP and others, the number of people taking claims to employment tribunals has plummeted. In fact, numbers fell by 59 per cent since fees were introduced in July 2013.

The new rules meant that claimants in England, Scotland and Wales have to pay a fee to lodge a complaint with an employment tribunal. Fees range from £160 to lodge a claim for unpaid wages to £250 to lodge a claim of discrimination. On top of this, additional fees of between £230 and £950 must be paid to have the claim heard.

Justice for employees who have been badly treated by employers denying them their rights are now restricted to those who can afford to take a claim.  Not only does this send out a signal to bad employers that they can get away with mistreating staff and breaking the law, but it also is resulting in thousands of workers being denied what should be a basic right to legal redress.

Discrimination claims have fallen dramatically with sex discrimination claims down by 80 per cent, race by 60 per cent and disability by nearly 50 per cent.

Those worst affected are some of the most vulnerable people in society.  Comparing the numbers of claims in the first quarter of 2013 to the same period in 2014 after the fees were introduced figures show an 85 per cent fall in claims for unfair deduction of wages and 70 per cent for failure to pay the minimum wage.  Many low paid workers are being put off submitting claims for non- payment of wages because the tribunal fees are more than the money they are owed.  Even if their claim is successful many never receive the money they are owed.  How many people can afford to take that gamble?

The CSP continues to support members whose claims are assessed by our solicitors as having good prospects of success with fees recouped from damages awarded.  But what of the thousands of people who lack the support and protection of a trade union or financial means to pursue a claim. That is why the CSP will continue to lobby for these repressive fees to be revoked.

Kate Moran CSP’s head of employment research

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