The official figures show a staggering 165 per cent increase in the number of single claims received by employment tribunals in April-June 2018, compared to April-June 2017. This increase may not be unexpected as tribunal fees remained in place throughout the 2017 quarter, before their removal in July 2017. The figures do show a consistent quarterly increase with a 23 per cent increase in April to June 2018, when compared to the number of claims received in January to March 2018. There was also a 344 per cent increase in the number of multiple claims received, when compared to the same quarter in 2017, but this has been contributed towards by a mass claim against one airline.
The increase in claims has, perhaps inevitably, led to an increasing backlog within the tribunal system, with a 130 per cent increase in the number of outstanding cases for single claims within this period. Other notable information revealed by the statistics includes:
- 4,801 unfair dismissal claims were made in the three-month period, representing a 56 per cent increase on the same quarter in 2017
- an equal pay claim was pursued by 7,972 claimants in April to June, representing a 26 per cent increase on the same period in 2017
- employers faced high numbers of tribunal claims as a result of making staff redundant, with 1,730 claims relating to a failure to inform and consult during a redundancy and 1,044 claims relating to redundancy pay
- the most common claims dealt with in the three-month period were unauthorised deduction from wages claims
- 25 per cent of all claims dealt with in the quarter were settled through ACAS Early Conciliation.
Compensation figures were also released by the Ministry of Justice. These figures highlighted that the average compensation award for an unfair dismissal claim was £15,007 in 2017/18. The highest compensation award for a discrimination claim was a £242,130 award for disability discrimination, with disability compensation averaging at £30,698. The second highest average compensation award was £24,322 for race discrimination, followed by £13,212 for sex discrimination.
These statistics show that employees, and ex-employees, are increasingly turning to the employment tribunal to challenge their employer’s actions and to clarify their rights. Even though the figures relate to the eleven months following the removal of tribunal fees in July 2017, there has been a consistent increase in the number of tribunal claims brought since then, with more claims focusing on areas where the financial loss to the employee may be low, such as a wage deduction. With the cost of a successful tribunal remaining high, organisations need to ensure they have supporting documentation in place and internal procedures are applied fairly, and in a non-discriminatory manner, when taking action against staff.