I am deeply concerned that there has been a dramatic fall in the number of cases taken to employment tribunals.
This news broke following a review by the Government into its own policy to introduce £1,200 fees for people wanting to bring forward their cases. The Government’s own report detailed how employment tribunal cases slumped by 78% in the first year of fees – mainly affecting low-paid women.
The review said the total number of employment tribunal claims fell from 195,570 the year before fees to 43,951 the year after. The number of claims rose again to 74,979 the year after, but that still represented a 62% drop on the year before fees were introduced.
The Government have stated that they believe that a £1,200 fee is not a barrier to justice. But Unions and Labour have pointed out that the statistics of contained within the Government’s report show otherwise.
The Government’s own report demonstrates just how much of a detrimental impact their fees have had on people’s access to justice. Access to the courts should not be based upon your bank balance, but on the validity of your case and these measures have stopped people who have been wronged in the workplace from getting a fair hearing.
We are lucky in Flintshire to have so many decent employers who care for their employees, but there are rogue operators who care not for people’s rights. By putting in place a fee that most people cannot afford the Government is decided to be on the side of rogue employers. The Government’s policies are hurting low-paid women more than any other group. Yet another demonstration of where their priorities lie.
As a member of the Justice Select Committee and former Justice Minister, I understand the pressures the justice system is under. But to place the burden of that cost on those seeking help is plainly wrong.