Labour has accused the government of “pricing people out of justice”, as new figures published by the TUC reveal the number of employment tribunal cases has fallen by 9,000 a month since fees of up to £1,200 were introduced.
The dramatic change includes a shocking 76% drop in unfair dismissal claims, a 71% drop in sex discrimination claims, 58% for race discrimination cases, and a 54% drop in disability discrimination claims taken to tribunal.
A review on the impact of employment tribunal fees by The Ministry of Justice was expected by the end of 2015, but this has been delayed and nothing has been heard almost a year later.
TUC says employment tribunal fees are allowing discrimination at work to “flourish unchecked”, while Labour has promised to scrap the “unfair” fees if it wins the next general election. The TUC says the review must be published urgently and is calling on Theresa May and Phillip Hammond to abolish fees in this month’s Autumn Statement.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “These figures show a huge drop in workers seeking justice when they’ve been unfairly treated. Now bosses know they can get away with it, discrimination at work can flourish unchecked and people can be sacked without good reason.
“The evidence is there for all to see. These fees – of up to £1200, even if you’re on the minimum wage – are pricing out thousands each month from pursuing cases.
“Theresa May has repeatedly said she wants to govern for ordinary working people. Here is a perfect opportunity. She could reverse employment tribunal fees, and make sure workers can challenge bad employers in court.”
Shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon MP said: “These figures from the Trades Union Congress provide clear and current evidence that Employment Tribunal Fees – introduced by the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition – are pricing people out of justice.
“Labour has said this all along and that is why it has committed to scrapping these unfair Employment Tribunal fees in Government – no ifs, no buts. There should not be a financial barrier to challenging employers over equal pay, sex or gender discrimination and a host of workplace issues.
“The Government committed to reviewing these fees in 2013. That review started in June 2015 and was to be concluded in a year. It’s high time the Conservatives confirmed what that review will tell us: that this is a wholesale denial of justice.”