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14 March 2014 / legal-blog
A blog article by Jonathan White
Figures published earlier this week have revealed a 79% fall in employment tribunal cases, prompting concern over what this means for access to justice. Employment tribunal cases dropped from 45,710 between September-December 2012, to 9,801 cases for the same period in 2013.
The sharp drop in the number seen from 2012 to 2013 reflects the introduction of government charges which means that claimants must now pay to take employment cases to court and pay further fees when the claim is heard. Introduced in July 2013, the Ministry of Justice argues that such changes to the Employment Tribunal Service will save millions of pounds a year.
Some employers are likely to consider this a brilliant result. Far fewer employees are now able to challenge their treatment at work or an unfair dismissal and employers can now act with the confidence that the government is on their side. The introduction of such fees has prompted a backlash from unions who believe the costs have acted as a barrier to justice for many.
The TUC has particularly identified women as the main losers, inferred from the big drop in sex discrimination and pregnancy dismissal cases. Whilst there is relief for the very poorest against the fees, the TUC found that more than a third of households that contain a worker on the minimum wage would still have to pay £390 to bring an unpaid wage claim.
The Government’s aim to deter workers from claiming has clearly worked; the figures speak for themselves. However, this is to the detriment of employees with valid claims who can no longer proceed. Workers who are treated badly are suffering injustice and cannot afford to put it right.
The balance has been tipped too far in favour of businesses and against the rights of individuals, just as the Jackson reforms and fixed cost were designed to do to Personal Injury (PI) claimants.
However, thanks to the efforts of organisations like National Accident Helpline (NAH) and our panel of expert solicitors, PI claimants have been empowered to seek the compensation they deserve.
NAH fights hard to ensure that accident victims do not suffer the same fate as people suffering from victimisation or mistreatment in the workplace. It is encouraging to see unions taking action and speaking out against this mistreatment, but it is evident that there is still a long way to go until justice is restored.
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