The number of workers taking claims of unfair dismissal or discrimination to employment tribunals has fallen since charges came into force, according to the Trades Union Congress.
Working people in the UK challenging discrimination or unfair treatment at work has slumped by 9,000 a month since charges of up to £1,200 came in, revealed the new figures.
In the year 2012-13 before tribunal fees were introduced, 16,000 people per month, on average, took a claim against their employer to tribunal.
But in 2015-16, the average number of people taking claims had dropped to 7,000 a month.
This includes a drop of nearly three-quarters (-73%) for unfair dismissal claims, whilst there have been sharp falls in challenges over sex discrimination (-71%), race discrimination (-58%) and disability discrimination (-54%).
The TUC says the figures show that a key mechanism to stamp out discrimination and stop unfair sackings is broken due to the increase of charges, allowing discrimination to “flourish unchecked”.
The Ministry of Justice was due to publish a review on the impact of fees by the end of 2015. However, nearly a year on, nothing has happened. The TUC says the review must be published urgently and is calling on Theresa May and Phillip Hammond to abolish fees in this month’s Autumn Statement.
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “These figures show a huge drop in workers seeking justice when they’ve been unfairly treated. Now bosses know they can get away with it, discrimination at work can flourish unchecked and people can be sacked without good reason.
“The evidence is there for all to see. These fees – of up to £1200, even if you’re on the minimum wage – are pricing out thousands each month from pursuing cases.
“Theresa May has repeatedly said she wants to govern for ordinary working people. Here is a perfect opportunity. She could reverse employment tribunal fees, and make sure workers can challenge bad employers in court.”