Employment Tribunal statistics continue to show a decrease in claims

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The Government’s quarterly Employment Tribunal statistics for the period from January to March 2014 have just been released and show a drop in single claims of 59% compared to the same period last year. This continues the downward trend in claims and follows a 79% drop in single claims for the period October to December. This trend is almost certainly linked to the introduction of fees last July.

Interestingly, only 5% of all Employment Tribunal claims issued during the period from July to December 2013 qualified for a fee remission demonstrating that fee remission is not an option for the vast majority of claimants.

The drop in claims is welcome news for employers and we are certainly seeing far fewer vexatious and ‘nuisance’ claims. There is an argument, however, that the fees (or the level of the fees) deny access to justice for many workers with legitimate claims and are a breach of EU law. On this point, many of you will be following UNISON’s judicial review challenge to fees with interest. UNISON has now been granted permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal and this is due to be heard between September and December this year. UNISON will be asking the Court of Appeal to consider the ET statistics which were not available when the case was first heard by the High Court and which will inevitably add weight to their case.

In the meantime, rumours have circulated on Twitter that shadow Business Secretary, Chukka Umanna, hinted at a recent conference that a Labour government would abolish Employment Tribunal fees although this has not been confirmed as official Labour policy.

It is clear that the issue of whether ET fees are here to stay (whether in their current format, at a reduced level or with any future change of administration) has yet to be resolved.