Employers should be wary about the staggering increase in Employment Tribunal proceedings being brought by both employees and ex-employees.
The Tribunals Service and Ministry of Justice has published its figures for the period April 2009 to the end of March 2010 which show a 50% increase in the number of claims accepted at Tribunals compared to the previous twelve months.
The main areas that have seen increases are unfair dismissal claims, redundancy pay and breach of contract claims, all of which indicate that due to the economic climate, employers have made employee cut-backs, perhaps without following the due procedure. The increases also indicate that in these fragile economic times, employees/ex-employees who are perhaps struggling to find new employment, are more likely to bring employment tribunal proceedings in relation to their employment disputes and in an attempt to recover compensation and monies they are owed.
Although the figures report a slight fall in the number of discrimination claims, the maximum award to be paid by an employer and awarded to an employee following a tribunal was £1,353,432, for a race discrimination case.
Given my own experience and upon review of a survey by the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA), the high increase in claims and the effect this is having on tribunals across the UK may also suggest that the tribunal system requires review and reform.
If you require commercial employment advice, including advice regarding redundancies and lay-off, or assistance with defending employment tribunal proceedings, please contact me at Victoria.Mitchell@farleys.com.
Employment Solicitor and member of the Employment Lawyers Association.