Employment

The Ministry of Justice has published the annual employment tribunal statistics for 2017/18 but what do they tell us?

More work for the tribunal – the effect of removing fees

Employment tribunal fees were introduced in 2013 and then abolished four years later in July 2017. Since then the number of tribunal claims has, unsurprisingly, increased dramatically.

  • The number of single claims raised in the most recent quarter (April to June 2018) is up 165% from the same time last year.
  • Multiple claims more than quadrupled, up 344% due to a large multiple airline claim.
  • In the year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 a total of 109,685 employment tribunal applications were received; compared with 88,461 the previous year and 83,015 in 2015/16.

While the steady increase in claims since 2017 was expected, what can be said is that we have not yet quite reached the number of claims seen prior to 2013. This is illustrated in the graph below, produced by the Ministry of Justice in its report. We should, therefore expect to see further increases over the next few years.

Awards

Interestingly, fewer awards were made last year than in previous years, while the highest award made was lower for every type of claim reported on.

  • Tribunals only made awards in 536 unfair dismissal claims and 136 discrimination claims (compared with 587 and 158 the previous year), despite the significant increase in the number of overall claims.
  • The highest average award was for claims of disability discrimination (£30,698); religious discrimination was at the other end of the scale at £5,074. The average award for unfair dismissal was £15,007.
  • The highest sum awarded in an employment tribunal claim in 2017/18 was £415,227 in an unfair dismissal claim (the usual statutory cap for unfair dismissal claims does not apply in certain circumstances). This was followed by £242,130 in a disability discrimination claim.

Fee refunds

In October 2017, the ET fee refund scheme was introduced following the abolition of the fees. In the most recent quarter, 4,700 refund payments were made totalling £4,018,300. The total value of refunds now made since October 2017 is up to £10,615,000.

Less legal representation

With an increase in claims, the ET has also seen an increase in claimants not represented by a solicitor. The figures show that 74% of claimants were represented by a solicitor at the time of submitting their claim in 2017/18 which is down from 86% in 2016/17.

Costs

The number of costs awards made by employment tribunals in 2017/18 remained at 479. However, last year 310 costs awards were made to respondents and only 169 to claimants, reversing the previous trend of there being more cost awards made to claimants.

Please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact should you wish to discuss anything raised in this blog in more detail.

Eilidh Smith

Trainee at Brodies LLP
Eilidh is a trainee in Brodies' employment team.

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