Thompsons Solicitors say fees are denying workers justice

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Thompsons,

Thompsons Solicitors logoThe latest statistics for employment tribunals show a drop of 12% in single claims for the last quarter of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013.

The figures published by the Ministry of Justice show the number of single claims (involving one individual with a claim against an employer) received in October to December 2014 was 4,386.

Although the trend in single claims had been gradually declining for the last five years, the rate of decline increased in October to December 2013, coinciding with the introduction of employment tribunal fees in July 2013. The number of single claims peaked at just over 6,500 in July 2013 before falling sharply to 1,000 cases in September 2013.

The number of multiple claims (where two or more people bring claims against an employer) in October to December 2014 rose to 622, an increase of 222 cases on the period July to September 2014. The increase is almost certainly as a result of holiday pay litigation following recent rulings about the level at which holiday pay should be paid. Prior to this quarter, the number of multiple claims cases had been falling.

According to the figures for October to December 2014, it took 53 weeks on average for a tribunal to clear or dispose of a single case and 205 weeks to dispose of a multiple claim.

In terms of fees and fee remissions, 11,338 remission applications were submitted for the issue fee and 2,494 for the hearing fee in the 12 months ending 30 September 2014. Around a third of issue fee remission applications were either fully or partially successful compared with almost two thirds of hearing fee remission applications during this period.

A recent report by the University of Bristol looking at the reasons offered by the coalition government to justify the introduction of fees and other changes to the employment tribunal system has found that they were based essentially on myths, rather than concrete evidence. Their study, the first to provide longitudinal, qualitative data on experiences of the employment tribunal system calls for a complete overhaul.

Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors said: “The report from the University of Bristol makes clear that many of the government’s alleged justifications for the implementation of Employment Tribunal fees are not substantiated by any evidence.

“This was a point made by many who opposed the implementation of fees at the time. There is much to suggest that the introduction of fees was part a wider political agenda being pursued by the coalition government rather than any genuine attempt to review all of the evidence and improve the tribunal system as a whole. This insightful report stresses that the present system is failing employees and preventing them from accessing justice, meaning problems in the workplace remain unresolved.”

* Why are two-faced Tories rubbing their hands in glee over ET fees?

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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