Back in February of this year, former Business Secretary, Vince Cable, launched a review of the impact of employment tribunal fees, in particular to address whether they are a barrier to justice. In his final week as Business Secretary, Dr Cable announced the findings of that review.
According to Dr Cable, Business Department officials have found that the total number of claims at the employment tribunals fell by almost 70%, from 340,000 in the first quarter of the 2013-2014 financial year, to just over 110,000 in the third quarter of 2014-2015. In addition, sex discrimination claims were down by 82% from 21,000 to 3,500 over the same period, while the number of equal pay cases dropped by 72% from almost 27,000 to 7,500.
Dr Cable stated that there was enough evidence to suggest that the decision to introduce fees in the employment tribunals was "a very bad move and should be reversed". He commented that "it is highly suggestive that the fees are discouraging people, particularly low paid women, from pursuing their rights", although he did recognise that the introduction of mandatory early conciliation may have assisted in reducing the number of claims brought before the employment tribunals.
Sajid Javid supersedes Dr Cable as Business Secretary and it remains to be seen whether the newly-elected Conservative government will take heed of Dr Cable’s findings despite their pre-election stance that the current tribunal fee system should remain.