Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has published the latest quarterly statistics for January to March 2013. The figures, which summarise the number of cases brought at the employment tribunal and the service’s annual figures for the financial year 2012/2013 have shown some interesting trends:

1.    The number of claims accepted by the Employment Tribunals has increased by 3% to 191,541 compared with 186,331 in 2011/12.
2.    There has been a 74% rise in the number of sex discrimination claims
3.    There has been a 24% fall in the number of age discrimination claims

Whilst not showing the dramatic increase in the overall number of cases brought to tribunal as has been seen in previous periods, the overall trend continues to be on an upward slant.

The introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, which will come into force later this month on 29th July, is expected to result in a reduction in the number of claims, as only those with strong cases will be willing to pay the costs associated with lodging a claim and pursuing it to a full hearing. Certainly, it is anticipated that there will be a fall in unmeritorious claims for this very reason.

The sharp increase in the number of sex discrimination claims is certainly something that employers need to be aware of – the Equality Act 2010 enforces against discrimination, be it on the on the grounds of sex, age, race, sexual orientation, disability, maternity or pregnancy. Employers need also be wary that the Equality Act protects workers at every stage of the employee/employer relationship and a claim for discrimination can be brought in relation to an interview, a period of contractual employment, or can form the grounds of a claim of unfair constructive dismissal.

If you require advice on any aspect of employment law, including representation or advice about an Employment Tribunal hearing or in relation to an accusation of workplace discrimination, please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Sally Eastwood, Lancashire Employment Solicitor