Since the abolition of employment tribunal fees in July 2017, the number of claims has risen dramatically.
Recent figures published by the Ministry of Justice for the period April to June 2018 show that the number of single claims increased by 165% when compared with the same period in 2017. This is a good indicator of the impact of the removal of fees as it was the last full three month period when fees were applicable. The knock-on effect of this huge increase in claims is the number which remain outstanding and HM Courts & Tribunal Service is currently increasing the number of judges.
Taking into account all employment tribunal statistics for the period 1st April 2017 to the 31st March 2018, there are several jurisdictions which have significantly higher claims. These include unauthorised deductions, unfair dismissal, equal pay and breach of contract.
The average award for unfair dismissal was £15,007 and this does not include the cost of time spent defending a claim.
Whilst the number of claims for discrimination on the grounds of individual protected characteristics were less, these do add up and there were 21,373 claims for either age, disability, race, religion/belief, sex or sexual orientation discrimination. In addition there were 1,336 cases due to suffering a detriment or unfair dismissal relating to pregnancy.
Discrimination is an area which can present a great risk to an employer. It includes direct or indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation on the grounds of a protected characteristic as well as failure to make reasonable adjustments when an employee has a disability. Discrimination claims have potentially unlimited compensation together with damages for injury to feelings.
All this stresses the need for employers to have appropriate policies and procedures within the workplace for managing staff and managers who are trained.
If you would like further information or support for your business, please get in touch with Sheila Watson on 01429 857082.