The latest quarterly statistics for employment tribunal claims have revealed the number of claims being received has continued to increase. Between October-December 2017, the number of single claims received increased by 90 per cent compared to October-December 2016. There has also been a quarter-on-quarter increase with 16 per cent more claims received in the third quarter of 2017/18 compared to the second quarter.
An increase in tribunal claims was expected when the Supreme Court outlawed tribunal fees in July 2017. The previous fee regime required potential claimants to pay a lodging fee and a hearing fee, totalling over £1,000 in some cases, when bringing a claim against an organisation. The Supreme Court’s ruling that fees restricted access to justice and discriminated against women and those with protected characteristics prevented fees being charged. Indeed, the latest statistics show support for the Court’s decision, with a 56.5% increase in race discrimination claims and a 45% increase in disability discrimination claims compared to the same quarter in 2016/17 when claimants had to pay fees.
As claims increase, organisations need to ensure they are following lawful practices. The provision of contractual documentation, applying correct employment rights and acting fairly will all help prevent organisations ending up in front of tribunal. Workers are becoming increasingly aware of their rights, highlighted by the rise in claims, meaning managers and supervisors may need additional updated training to ensure their decision-making processes are not leading to potential claims. For example, a 65% increase in the number of unfair dismissal claims shows organisations need to act lawfully when making dismissal decisions, including having a fair reason and following a fair process.
Public focus on employment law matters is also likely to contribute towards a rise in claims. There has been a significant increase in the number of equal pay claims which have increased by 359% compared to the same quarter in 2016/17. Mass claims against retailers such as Tesco and Next will contribute towards this increase, but also awareness and publicity about gender pay disparity may also lead to employees bringing claims.
The Ministry of Justice has announced 3,337 refund payments have been made under the tribunal fee refund scheme to those who previously paid fees, totalling £2,758,316.