12/07/2016 - Government stalls on employment tribunal fees report

courtThe government is stalling on the publication of a report reviewing the impact of employment tribunal fees post implementation.

In a recent Commons debate MPs and members of the Select Committee on Justice, from all parties including the Tories, criticised the Ministry of Justice’s failure to publish the report, which was promised over a year ago.

Labour MP Justin Madders said: “The review was commissioned over a year ago and it has apparently been on the Minister’s desk for nine months. Having heard the Minister previously responsible for this area flounder in a Westminster Hall debate on this subject, I think it is pretty clear that the review has been sat on because the introduction of fees has been a disaster.”

The Committee has published a damning report on government policy concerning court fees - including for employment tribunals - concluding that: “In many cases the existence of fees erects a disincentive for employers to resolve disputes at an early stage. The arguments presented to us by the Government in this inquiry, limited as they are … have not swayed us from our conclusion, on the evidence, that the regime of employment tribunal fees has had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims.”

The Committee called on the government to publish the information collated as part of their post-implementation review; to reduce tribunal fees; to increase the financial thresholds for fee remission; to make changes to the way claims are defined to make the system fairer; and to give special consideration to the position of women alleging maternity or pregnancy discrimination, who may not be eligible for financial help due to savings they have put aside to raise their child.

Several MPs pointed to statistical evidence that the introduction of fees has created a significant barrier to justice for working people. The number of cases brought by single individuals has declined by 67%, claims brought by more than one person fell by 72%, claims relating to the working time directive are down 78%, wage cases dropped by 56%, unfair dismissal claims declined by 72%, equal pay cases fell by 58%, breach of contract claims were down 75% and sex discrimination claims sank by 68%.

A survey by the Citizen’s Advice Bureau showed 47% of respondents would have to put aside six months of their discretionary income to be able to afford the £1,200 required to make a Type B claim; 82% who were experiencing problems at work said they were discouraged from making a claim due to the fees; and only 29% were aware they could apply for a fee remission.

ACAS reported that 26% of claimants who didn’t progress their cases said they made the decision to drop their case as a direct result of the affordability of the fees.

Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity, commented:-

"Fees are acting as a barrier to workers obtaining Justice in Employment Tribunals. They should be abolished."