Figures released yesterday showed there were 5,619 single claims in the first quarter of this year, a slight increase from 4,969 in the final quarter of 2013. However, it's a sharp fall from 13,739 across the same period 12 months previously – a reduction of 59%.
The introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013 may have something to do with the fall in numbers. The move was strongly opposed by UNISON and it brought an action to have the move reversed in May of this year. However, the case was rejected because the court ruled it was brought too early.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis called the figure "perilously low".
"The Government’s motive in imposing these hefty fees was to make it as difficult as possible for workers to seek justice and fuel a hire and fire culture for unscrupulous employers," he said. "UNISON is not going to let them get away with it and will continue our fight for justice for all.”
Richard Fox, head of employment law at Kingsley Napley LLP and VP of the Employment Lawyers' Association, told HR magazine the Government is likely to be forced into a change of direction by the statistics.
"The most likely outcome is that the fees will be reduced," he said. "Worryingly for employers, UNISON is almost certain to bring another action in the near future. If that is successful at least some fees going all the way back to July 2013 will have to be reimbursed. This could be hugely problematic for employers."