Claims against employers fell by as much as 55% following the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, according to a law firm.
Unions have attacked the Government scheme which forces employees to pay up to £1,200 to make claims for unfair dismissal and discrimination.
The Ministry of Justice claims the charges for the Employment Tribunal Service, which came into effect in July 2013, will save millions of pounds a year.
According to the law firm Hugh James, the number of claims accepted by the Employment Tribunal Service fell by 55% from 17,153 in July to 7,448 in August.
The figures, taken from MoJ data, also show that employee claims fell by 11% from 44,335 in April-June to 39,514 in July-September.
This equated to a 17% drop from the same period last year, Hugh James said.
The union Unison has made a legal challenge to the introduction of the fees in October.
Emma Burns, head of employment law at Hugh James, said: “There is still considerable uncertainty as to whether the new fees are entirely lawful. If the new fees are abolished we’re likely to see a sharp rise in employees pursuing litigation against their employers.
“Drawn out workplace disputes that reach the tribunal can have a crippling financial effect on both businesses and workers.
“Employees now need to consider more carefully whether the cost of launching a claim against their employer or ex-employer justifies the cost and risk of being unsuccessful.”
Cases such as unfair dismissal will carry the higher charges and lower fees will be applicable for matters such as unpaid invoices.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The introduction of punitive fees for taking a claim to an employment tribunal would give the green light to unscrupulous employers to ride roughshod over already basic workers’ rights.
“Experience shows that the balance in the workplace favours the employers and pricing workers out of court is unfair and underhand. We are pleased that the Equality and Human Rights Commission are backing our case.”
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