Not surprisingly, the most recent statistics on claims filed with the Employment Tribunal show an increase in the period immediately after the removal of tribunal fees. Over 9000 of these were equal pay claims.
After the introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013 the number of equal pay claims received by the tribunal service dropped by 85 per cent. This was mainly because, until in July 2017, the Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fees were indirectly discriminatory and thus unlawful, it cost up to £1,200 to take an equal pay claim to a tribunal hearing, enough to deter most people from taking a claim – which is of course, exactly what fees were intended to do. It seems that while the government is willing to give people employment rights, it doesn’t actually want them to exercise those rights.
Some commentators are attributing the spike in equal pay claims to the BBC. I don’t think so. The fee regime was ill thought out and obviously discriminatory. It was expected to be found wanting, and lawyers will have been quietly preparing cases in the expectation of fees being removed.
Will the trend continue, or is the spike no more than a backlog?
You can find the latest release from the Ministry of Justice here.