The number of employment discrimination charges plunging in the UK? We posted earlier this week that the UK Ministry of Justice released employment tribunal stats for the first quarter of 2014, and according to Michael Rubinstein Publishing, there has been a “huge fall in employment tribunal claims as a result of the introduction of fees to bring a case and have it heard.”
We asked our UK readers for some clarification of what is taking place — and happily were accommodated.
One US reader shared our shock/skepticism over the numbers, noting correctly that in the US, claims/charges of discrimination are ever-increasing in numbers.
Marc Brenman, a university instructor in Olympia, WA:
“This is pretty shocking, but doesn’t sound right. If there were drops like this in the US, advocacy groups would be up in arms, there’d be Congressional hearings, etc. Can we confirm these figures from another source?”
All of our UK experts explained the fee, and/or noted that the stats were a predictable result of the increase in the fee. As you can see below, many folks deplore this fee, one saying that “poverty is on the rise and there is only justice for those who can pay,” and tell us that the fee is under attack by a trade union in the UK.
Harmander Singh, a business strategist from Greater London, UK:
“This was widely predicted and likened to charging turkeys to appeal against Christmas.
The biggest fall would have been in multiple discrimination cases – helping the slave trade to make a comeback under the guise of ‘liberalising’ working practices in favour of the employers.”
Dilys Jouvenat, a diversity and inclusion specialist in Cardiff, UK:
“Organsiations such as the CAB are reporting a large decrease in employment tribunal cases simply because people cannot afford the fees, one area of particular concern is the amount of possible pregnancy/maternity discrimination taking place without challenge.
This policy is being challenged through the courts by UNISON the public services trade union.”
Ken Hall, somewhere out in cyberspace:
“In fact there is, and has been since their introduction, great controversy (denying access to justice etc.) about fee charging. The dramatic fall across most jurisdictions – not only discrimination – is certain to reignite a threatened judicial review of the whole scheme.
For a general coverage of the debate by the social partners in the UK see: http://www.eurofound.europa.eu…”
Anne Hayfield, an equality and diversity professional in London:
The reason why there has been such a dramatic drop is that the UK Government has introduced fees for taking a case to tribunal. The fees have been set too high £200 to £1000. Its bad news…
This article explains that the fees are too high and should be reduced to about £50. I believe Unison the trade union is pursuing a legal case against the government. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/government-to-consider-lowering-employment-tribunal-fees/5040657.article
Says “Stevenson,” not otherwise identified except that her email address reads “girlfromessex”:
“The people with money or insurance have no problem, they will pay the fees and will hopefully receive justice.
The poorest people, who might have a great case, will attract fee remission but as they will not be able to get any help with filling in the forms they are very unlikely to claim [sic] and another bad employer will get away with bad practice. Advice centres are few and overstretched, and since the introduction of fees, that line has got worse.
The bottom line is that even if people have a genuine claim, they are unlikely to go to Employment Tribunal because of the fear of fees, which could be more than £950. https://www.gov.uk/government/…
The people in the middle might struggle; they had a well paid job and lost it, and money is now tight or has to be preserved to pay the bills and keep a roof over everyone’s head. Many feel they cannot justify paying nearly £1,000 to get a claim accepted, when their family has very little money coming in. Many of these people previously represented themselves at Tribunal, so gaining justice did not cost them anything.
That is the reason why fewer people are going to Tribunal. They simply cannot afford to do so. There never has been legal aid for people with an employment claim, and the fees were the final straw. Now people can lose their jobs for no good reason, or be victimized or discriminated against, and unless they have private funds, they have no redress to the law. In a country where food-banks are popping up on many High Roads, poverty is on the rise and there is only justice for those who can pay.”