Women facing ‘impossible’ barriers when challenging workplace harassment

The introduction of fees for employment tribunals could be to blame, say campaigners

Campaigners in Scotland say that the introduction of fess for employment tribunals may have created an ‘impossible’ barrier for women challenging workplace harassment and that the number of sex discrimination cases has dropped massively since fees were introduced.

In 2015/16, 8,380 sex discrimination cases were taken to employment tribunals, according to figures from the UK Government. A considerable drop of almost 20% compared to last years figure, which was 10,231.

Since the fees were introduced by the UK Government three years ago, statistics have shown that the number of sex discrimination cases continue to fall.

To acquire a hearing can now cost as much as £1,200 and some say the system is now ‘worthless’, if it means women can’t fight back.

A recent survey by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Everyday Sexism Project, found that over half of women in the workplace had suffered from sexual harassment, including sexual advances, groping and inappropriate jokes. In the group of girls and women between the ages of 16-24, nearly 63% had suffered sexual harassment in the workplace.

Executive director of the Scottish feminist organisation Engender, Emma Ritch, said that the number of sex discrimination cases fell by 91% in the year after the employment fees were introduced and that these new statistics show that it has continued to fall.

“For many women, particularly those in the lowest-paid jobs, paying £1,200 upfront in fees to get a tribunal hearing is simply impossible.” Said Emma Ritch.

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