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TUC condemns steep fees which allow bad bosses to get away with discrimination and unfair treatment.

New figures published by the TUC show that the number of working people challenging discrimination or unfair treatment at work has fallen by 9,000 a month since charges of up to £1,200 came in.

The analysis shows that in the year (2012-13) before tribunal fees were introduced, 16,000 people per month, on average, took a claim against their employer to tribunal.

But in 2015-16, the average number of people taking claims had dropped to 7,000 a month.

This includes a drop of nearly three-quarters (-73%) for unfair dismissal claims.  And there have been sharp falls in challenges over sex discrimination (-71%), race discrimination (-58%) and disability discrimination (-54%).

The TUC says the figures show that a key mechanism to stamp out discrimination and stop unfair sackings is broken, allowing discrimination to “flourish unchecked”.

The Ministry of Justice was due to publish a review on the impact of fees by the end of 2015. However, nearly a year on, nothing has happened. 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.”

Claims being taken to employment tribunal

Year Disability discrimination Race discrimination Sex discrimination Unfair dismissal
2012/13 7,492 4,818 18,814 49,036
2015/16 3,468 2,001 5,371 12,652
% change -54% -58% -71% -73%

Source: Ministry of Justice

– In 2012/13 there were 191,541 claims. In 2015/16 there were 83,031 claims. That means 108,510 fewer claims (or 9,043 a month).

– Under the current fees system, workers have to pay up to £1,200 to take claim to tribunal, including minimum wage workers if a member of their household has savings of £3,000.

– The number of single claim cases has fallen by 69% between 2012/13 and 2015/16. The number of multiple claim cases (where more than one person brings a claim against the same employer) has fallen by 79%.

– Acas figures for 2015/16 show that they received notification of over 90,000 employment disputes and 65% of these were not settled by Acas or did not progress to an employment tribunal.

– In June 2015/16 the Justice Select Committee carried out a review of court and tribunal fees and it concluded “the regime of employment tribunal fees has had a significant adverse impact on access to justice for meritorious claims” and “if there were to be a binary choice between income from fees and preservation of access to justice, the latter must prevail as a matter of broader public policy.”

Source: https://www.tuc.org.uk/equality-issues/industrial-issues/discrimination-work-allowed-%E2%80%9Cflourish-unchecked%E2%80%9D-employment