Women the big losers on employment tribunal fees

Women have been among the biggest losers since fees were introduced for employment tribunals, according to a new TUC report.

The report – What Price Justice?– shows how since the introduction of fees in July 2013 there has been a 79 per cent fall in overall claims taken to employment tribunals, with women and low-paid workers the worst affected.

What Price Justice? analyses the latest Ministry of Justice statistics. Key findings include:

– there has been an 80 per cent fall in the number of women pursuing sex discrimination claims. Just 1,222 women took out claims between January and March 2014, compared to 6,017 over the same period in 2013.

– the number of women pursuing pregnancy discrimination claims is also down by over a quarter (26 per cent), with just 3 per cent of women seeking financial compensation after losing their jobs.

– race and disability claims have also fallen – during the first three months of 2014 the number of race discrimination and sexual orientation claims both fell by 60 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. Disability claims have experienced a 46 per cent year-on-year reduction.

– there has been a 70 per cent drop in workers pursuing claims for non-payment of the national minimum wage.

The report says claims for unpaid wages and holiday pay have fallen overall by 85 per cent and many people are being put off making a claim because the cost of going to a tribunal is often more expensive than the sum of their outstanding wages. It adds taht only 24 per cent of workers who applied for financial assistance to take claims received any form of fee remittance.

Even workers employed on the minimum wage face fees of up to £1,200 if a member of their household has savings of £3,000.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Employment tribunal fees have been a huge victory for Britain’s worst bosses.

“By charging up-front fees for harassment and abuse claims the government has made it easier for bad employers to get away with the most appalling behaviour.

“Tribunal fees are part of a wider campaign to get rid of workers’ basic rights. The consequence has been to price low-paid and vulnerable people out of justice.”

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