Fees for bringing a claim were introduced last summer for the first time, with employees having to shell out £1,200 for claims off unfair dismissal or discrimination. The qualifying period to claim for unfair dismissal has now increased to two years.
The number of claims received in the last quarter of 2013 was 9,801 – 79% fewer than in the same period of 2012, and 75% fewer than the previous quarter, according to Ministry of Justice figures published today.
Justice minister Shailesh Vara said:”It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses. That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation and arbitration.
“It is not fair for the taxpayer to foot the entire £74m bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. And it is not unreasonable to expect people who can afford to do so, to make a contribution. As for those who cannot afford to pay, fee waivers are available.”
Some of the reduction in claims is partly down to the resolution of several large cases involving multiple claimants, which have been drawn out for a number of years, but the figures also show a significant slump in the number of individual claimants.
Richard Fox, chair of the Employment Lawyers’ Association and head of employment law at Kingsley Napley, said: “Despite the Government’s caveats, today’s figures are concerning. It is now clear that many employees have been deterred from bringing Tribunal claims since fees were introduced last year.
“If employees no longer feel able to defend their interests via Tribunal proceedings, they may look to do so in other ways – such as by turning to trade unions to fight their corner.”
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