The number of Employment Tribunal claims have increased threefold from July to September 2017 compared with the previous quarter, following the ruling of fees as unlawful by the Supreme Court in July.
Claims increased by 120 per cent to 30,339 compared with 13,759 during the previous quarter, which is the strongest indicator yet that fees for Employment Tribunals were previously deterring employees from making claims.
The total figure consists of single claims and multiple claims, the latter referring to cases where a number of employees bring a claim against the same employer.
According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice, there were 7,042 single claims received in July to September 2017, compared to 4,241 in the period April to June 2017, showing a 66 per cent increase since Employment Tribunal fees were abolished. There was also a 144 per cent rise in multiple claims, with 23,297 received that quarter, compared to 9,518 in the previous quarter. The multiple claims related to 429 multiple claim cases – an average of 54 claims per case.
Andrew Gilchrist, director and head of the employment law department at Lupton Fawcett, said:
“It’s clear that many people were discouraged from bringing claims due to the Employment Tribunal fees that were abolished earlier this year. The massive increase in multiple claims, which tend to be more volatile as they can be made up of a high number of claims against a single employer, indicates there is a large number of employees who are currently dissatisfied.”
During the year to September 2017, 75,250 claims were received by the Tribunal service, of which 15,535 were single cases and 59,715 were multiple claims. In the same period, 10,035 claims were brought for unauthorised wage deductions, 10,192 for unfair dismissal, and 17,166 for equal pay.
Almost half of the equal pay cases (7,563) were brought between July and September 2017, which was the largest jurisdictional increase.
When comparing this data with statistics for the period January to September 2016, total claim numbers have slightly decreased by 2 per cent.
Peninsula Head of Advisory Kate Palmer commented:
The tribunal fee statistics released today show a significant increase in the number of tribunal claims made since fees have been removed. Over the quarter, July to September 2017, there was a 64 per cent increase in single claims compared to the same quarter in 2016.
The monthly breakdown in claim numbers clearly reveals the impact of removing the fee system. In July 2017, there were 1,358 single cases. Since the Supreme Court judged fees to be unlawful on 26th July 2017, there were 3,045 single claims made in August and 2,639 single claims made in September. It’s likely the significant increase in August is a result of claimants rushing to submit their claim before the time limit to do so was reached, or by those claimants whose claims are already out of time but will be seeking an extension of the time limit.
The increase in claims shows that it is now more important than ever that employers are operating their business in a fair, reasonable and lawful manner. There is no financial deterrent for employees, or ex-employees, who wish to make a claim so employers need to avoid placing themselves in a position where they could end up in front of a tribunal. Having the correct documentation, implementing transparent policies, following fair and reasonable processes will all help limit the risk of facing a tribunal claim.
Employers should also seek advice on the merits of a claim. The government intended to reduce the number of weak and spurious claims made by introducing fees. Now these are no longer payable, there may be an increase in the number of weak claims made from claimants who are looking to receive an early financial settlement. Conciliation will not look at the merits of a claim so employers need to correctly assess whether they will be successful at tribunal before making settlement decisions.