The latest employment tribunal statistics released in June showed that the number of claims is falling.
The tribunal statistics quarterly for the period January to March 2014 show a 59 per cent fall in single employment claims compared to the same period in 2013.
The actual number of single employment tribunal claims for the first quarter of 2014 was 5,619 which made up 13 per cent of all claims received by HM Courts & Tribunal Service. The bulk of other claims entering the tribunal system related to social security and child support, and asylum claims.
The employment tribunal statistics are in line with a long-term downward trend in the number of claims being made but specific short term factors are also at work.
Employment Tribunal Claim Specifics
Employment claims can either be single claims which are brought by a single individual employee or multiple claims where more than one employee bring similar claims based on the same facts, usually against the same employer. In addition, individual claims can also be under several different jurisdictions such as working time or unfair dismissal.
While single claims have shown a consistent downward trend over the last five years, multiple claims have been more volatile. Overall though, the number of both types of claims has been falling in the longer term.
While there are less new claims being brought the employment tribunal has also become more efficient at disposing of claims. It disposed of 35,288 claims during the period, an increase of 27 per cent over 2013. Out of those claims, 37 per cent related to working time, 19 per cent to unfair dismissal, 10 per cent to equal pay and 8 per cent to discrimination.
Those making single employment tribunal claims during the period waited an average of 34 weeks from the acceptance of the claim to final judgement. Multiple claims waited 172 weeks.
Drivers of the Downward Trend in Employment Tribunal Claims
It is widely believed that the introduction of employment tribunal fees for claims made after 29 July 2013 has had a significant effect on the number of claims being brought.
Unions have claimed that the fees, which can be up to £250 to start a claim, are reducing access to justice for employees that are on low incomes. Other fees also apply as claims progress.
Unison brought a judicial review related to the introduction of fees but this was dismissed in February. It has since lodged an appeal.
The employment tribunal system is an important means for disputes to be settled between employer and employee. It should be remembered that cheaper and quicker forms of dispute resolution are also available.