Claims dropped 81% between January to March 2014 to 6,019, compared with the same quarter in 2012/13, according to government statistics. In the last quarter of 2013 claims fell by 79%, compared with the last quarter of 2012.
This follows the controversial introduction of tribunal fees at the end of July 2013, with costs starting at around £160 to issue a claim, rising to £250 a claim, depending on the type, and a further hearing fee ranging from £230 to £950.
This is excellent news for employers, as the fees appear to be dramatically discouraging weak, dishonest or speculative claims, which previously could be brought by claimants looking for a quick payout with little or no risk.
But trade union Unison said yesterday’s statistics ‘add significant weight to the union’s arguments that workers are being priced out of justice’.
Unison has been granted permission to appeal the High Court’s rejection of its judicial review challenging the introduction of tribunal fees.
An even further decline in tribunal claims may yet be seen later this year. From 6th May, claimants will have to contact ACAS (the government conciliation service) before they lodge a claim, allowing a month for attempted resolution of the dispute.
Shailesh Vara, the Justice Minister, has argued that it is “not fair” for the taxpayer to foot the entire £74m bill for people to “escalate workplace disputes” to a tribunal. “That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation and arbitration,” she explained. “It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses.”
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