Latest statistics showing a 71% fall in cases received by the tribunals service have prompted calls for the government to look again at its new hearing fees.
The Ministry of Justice reported today that in the three months ending 30 June, HM Courts and Tribunals Service received 74,400 claims – 71% lower than the same period last year and the lowest since current statistics began in 2008/09. The number of cases or claims disposed of fell by 35%, to 140,800.
The MoJ attributed the fall to ‘reductions in social security and child support appeals and employment claims’.
Fees for employment tribunal hearings were introduced in July 2013.
Richard Fox (pictured), head of employment law at London firm Kingsley Napley, said that today’s figures are the third successive round of statistics showing a sharp fall in the number of claims to the employment tribunal since the fees came in to force. ‘We really have reached the situation where many voices are coming together to say “something must be done”,’ he said.
The shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, this week said that a future Labour government would ‘ensure that affordability is not a barrier to employees seeking redress in the workplace’.
Fox noted that the government has said it is committed to its own review, ‘but we have heard nothing further in that respect for some time now. Given how well it had been doing in achieving a real balance between on the one hand allowing business to get on and prosper for everyone’s benefit, and on the other, allowing those with legitimate claims to have access to justice (prior to the introduction of fees), that is very disappointing.’
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Tribunal fees are pricing workers out of justice and have created a barrier to basic rights at work.’