The number of employment tribunals, including ones related to racial and sexual discrimination, have fallen dramatically thanks to introduction of fees.
While the process was previously free, to now take your employer to a tribunal over a grievance you must shell out up to £1,200. Citizens Advice have cited a situation where a kitchen porter was owed £300 in holiday pay. The tribunal would have cost them £390 and so they did not go ahead.
There are clear concerns that the new fees disproportionately affect poorer people, specifically in the case of women or ethnic minorities who may face discrimination but be unable to afford to take their employer to a tribunal. For example, the cost of a discrimination case is much higher than a dispute over pay.
Citizens Advice found that 70% of potentially successful cases that might have gone before a tribunal have not taken place. Their research saw this drop take place between October 2013 and March 2014 compared to the previous year. The fees were brought in on July 29th 2013.
Chief executive of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, said: “Employers are getting away with unlawful sackings and withholding wages.”
“People with strong employment claims are immediately defeated by high costs. The cost of a case can sometimes be more than the award achieved, and people can’t afford to fight on principle any more.”
“It is not fair for the taxpayer to foot the £74m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal,” said the justice minister Shailesh Vara. “It is not unreasonable to expect people who can afford to do so to make a contribution. For those who cannot afford to pay, full-fee waivers are available.”
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