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More employees seek justice in Employment Tribunals. (Employers – are you following workplace procedures?)

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Statistics released by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) in March 2018 show that the number of employees taking claims to employment tribunals (ET) has risen dramatically. Employers need to review their workplace procedures and ensure they follow them diligently.

What do the statistics show?

In the quarter October to December 2017, the MOJ statistics show that single ET claims increased as follows:

  • the number of claims received increased by 90%
  • the number of claims disposed of  increased by 21%
  • the outstanding caseload of single ET claims (i.e. the backlog) increased by 66%

In the same period, multiple ET claims increased as follows: claims received - by 467%; claims disposed of - by 55%; and the outstanding caseload outstanding (i.e. the backlog) - by 27%

What’s the reason for this increase?

Why have the number of employees seeking redress in an ET increased so dramatically? The answer is relatively straightforward and can be explained by a short history of ET fees in the last 5 years:

  • The Government introduced ET fees in 2013. This resulted in a drop in the number of employees taking their claim to an ET.
  • There followed heavy criticism of ET fees by a number of bodies because many employees could not afford to refer a claim to an ET. The fees effectively prevented many from accessing justice for employment claims (such as, for example, unfair dismissal or discrimination).
  • UNISON issued court proceedings for a judicial review of whether ET fees were lawful. In summer last year, the Supreme Court held that ET fees introduced by statute in 2013 (*) were unlawful.
  • In October 2017, in acknowledgement of the Supreme Court’s 2017 decision, the Government made an order to get rid of fees for ETs and to allow employees to apply for a refund for those ET fees paid since their introduction (an order introduced through the Employment Tribunal Fee Refund Scheme). 

The March 2018 MOJ statistics show the effect of that ban of ET fees and the order to refund ET fees paid: there was an almost immediate increase in ET claims being made from October onwards.

A warning for Employers

The fact that there is no longer a financial bar to employees seeking justice at an ET and the willingness of employees to access justice (evidenced by the MOJ statistics), should incentivise employers to get their business processes in order.

Staff with a grievance arising in the workplace no longer have to worry about paying a fee to take their claim to an ET.  The payment of fees no longer stands in their way.

What can employers do?

  • Check your workplace policies are up to date.
  • Ensure those who deal with staff issues are familiar with your policies and understand the importance of carrying out grievance procedures (for example) in compliance with the policies.
  • If necessary, train your staff to ensure compliance.

Contact

To discuss any aspect of the process above or general issues relating to the gender pay gap, contact Susan Mayall on 0161 684 6948 or make an enquiry.

Sources

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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