MoJ attempt to spin bad news on employment tribunals was worthy of Yes Minister.
There comes a tipping point beyond which spinning bad news takes government into the realms of the absurd.
That point was passed by the press release announcing that the government intends to do nothing much to help low-earners priced out of pursuing employment tribunal claims.
The headline could hardly have been more disingenuous – ‘Record numbers of working people bringing employment disputes’. As is well documented, the number of tribunal claims has plunged as a direct consequence of the introduction of fees and muddying the waters by lumping in Acas statistics is downright cynical. Acas tells people to notify only if they want to pursue a claim, so why are thousands not taking claims to tribunal? Fees.
If the government does not think people should have equality of arms in disputes with employers (so as to discourage vexatious claims, perhaps) it should say so – it is a perfectly defensible argument.
The following paragraph in the review would have been worthy of Yes Minister and ought to be framed and hung on the wall at Petty France: ‘While there is clear evidence that ET fees have discouraged people from bringing claims, there is no conclusive evidence that they have been prevented from doing so.’
How conclusive does the evidence have to be?