The number of sex discrimination cases being pursued at employment tribunal has fallen from 6,310 to 591 – a fall of 91% – since fees were introduced, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice today.
Pregnancy discrimination claims for the period April-June 2014, compared with April-June 2013 pre-fees, have fallen by 46% and unfair dismissal by 74%. The figures come in the week Labour proposed that it would abolish the current fees system under which people have to pay as much as £250 for a claim and £950 for a tribunal hearing.
The TUC says the figures show that women, low-paid workers, disabled people, and black and asian workers are the big losers.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Early conciliation through Acas is a welcome step that is helping in some cases when things go wrong at work, but it can’t explain such a large fall in the number of employment tribunals. The fees system is a victory for Britain’s bad bosses who are getting away with harassment and abuse of workers.
“Tribunal fees are pricing workers out of justice and have created a barrier to basic rights at work. The government has put Britain in a race to the bottom that is creating an economy based on zero-hours jobs and zero-rights for workers.”
The government has set up a fees remission scheme to help low-paid workers with the cost of fees. However, the TUC believes that the system is deeply flawed as it is based on household income and savings, rather than an individual’s income. It says that, for example, a woman working part-time on the minimum wage – with a weekly income of just £120 – could still face fees ten times her weekly salary if her partner has savings of more than £3,000. It adds that fewer than a quarter of individuals applying for fees remission have received financial help.