The number of employment tribunal claims fell by 79 per cent last year following the controversial introduction of fees, latest figures have revealed.
Between October and December 2013, there were 9,801 new cases – a 79 per cent reduction compared to the same period the year before.
Unions said the statistics, issued by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), confirmed their warnings that workers would be discouraged from taking claims for unfair dismissal and other complaints.
Charges of £250 to issue a claim and between £960 and over £1,000 for a hearing came into force last July.
GMB union legal officer Maria Ludkin said: “These figures confirm our fears that government changes to time limits and introduction of fees has had a devastating impact on access to justice for working people.
“To suggest a 79% reduction is part of a long-term declining trend is frankly laughable. Charging £250 to issue a claim and between £960 and £1,060 for a hearing has priced workers out of tribunals.
“We predicted that this would happen but it fell on deaf ears in a government made up of the multimillionaire elite.”
Justice Minister Shailesh Vara said: “It is in everyone’s interest to avoid drawn out disputes which emotionally damage workers and financially damage businesses.
“That’s why we are encouraging quicker, simpler and cheaper alternatives like mediation and arbitration.
“It is not fair for the taxpayer to foot the entire £74 million bill for people to escalate workplace disputes to a tribunal. And it is not unreasonable to expect people who can afford to do so, to make a contribution.
“As for those who cannot afford to pay, fee waivers are available.”