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Employment Tribunal Statistics and Reform

A briefing by Wolters Kluwer's Croner business.

New figures released today by the Ministry of Justice reveal a 71% drop in employment tribunal claims compared with the same period in 2013.

The publication of the statistics follows the announcement by Shadow Business Secretary, Chukka Umunna, on Monday that the Labour Party would scrap the current employment tribunal system.

Commenting on the decline in tribunal claims and the possibility of tribunal reform, Richard Smith, Head of HR Wolters Kluwer's Croner business, says:

  • The current Coalition Government predicted a reduction in employment tribunal (ET) claims of between 25-40% when it introduced tribunal fees; in fact as the statistics show, the reduction has been almost twice the upper prediction: 71%.
  • Many employers will see this as positive news; however we believe that the introduction of tribunal fees has meant that good cases are not being presented due to the cost of litigation, which is evident by the sharp reduction in the number of claims.
  • Wolters Kluwer welcomes measures that have reduced frivolous and timewasting complaints brought to pressure employers into making payments to save the time and hassle of dealing with proceedings. However, it is important that good employers are protected from unfair competition from bad employers who do not respect worker rights. An effective remedy requires access to justice and the inability to pursue claims due to cost allows the bad employer to get away with abuses and to undercut the good employer.
  • Wolters Kluwer thinks that an easing of the levels of fees in general, more generous exceptions for lower paid/unwaged claimants and fees that better reflect the value of the claim sought/awarded e.g. a percentage rather than fixed costs would mitigate the overshoot over the reduction in Tribunal claims.
  • We note that Chukka Umunna has promised reform, not repeal, of ET fees and would welcome a sensible dialogue to ensure that a balanced outcome between the requirement to deter weak claims while affording access to justice is found.