Working Theory

by Michael Reed


I do employment law for the Free Representation Unit.


michael at


Investigation in the face of injustice is no virtue

29 July 2014

The Independent is a bit confused about the detail of Employment Tribunal fees.

But I think, in calling for further investigation into why claims are dropping so much, they’re confused on a more serious level.

In fairness, this is something I’ve also heard from people in HMCTS: ‘We didn’t expect the number of claims to drop so much. There may be many factors causing the drop. We need to examine the situation carefully in order to decide how to respond.’

With respect, this is bunk.

The most cursory examination of the number of claims following the introduction of fees tells us all we need to know. Introducing high levels of fees to pursue a claim has caused the number of claims to plummet. And the decline goes far beyond what can be explained by weak cases being weeded out.

Of course, there are other things going on that might have affected the statistics. But the primary cause is obvious. It’s also obvious that the remission system is not protecting the ability of low-paid employees to bring claims.

This is a genuine crisis in the ability of employees to enforce their employment rights and get access to justice. We should be either removing the fees altogether or radically rethinking of their level, structure and remission. Immediately.

There is a time for careful investigation and thought.1 But there are also times when the situation is clear and calls for decisive action.

If your TV explodes and sets your house on fire, you don’t waste time trying to establish the exact cause. You run outside and call 999.

  1. Like before you introduce the policy in the first place. 

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