Employment law specialist Bibby Consulting & Support has warned that even though the latest tribunal statistics show a 15 per cent fall in the number of claims, the truth is that employers still consider the process a major source of frustration.
The company was responding to figures published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in the Annual Tribunal Statistics 2011/2012. Managing Director Michael Slade welcomed the news that the overall number of claims had dropped, but questioned whether this drop was actually being felt by micro and small businesses – and if indeed whether some elements of the reports were being overlooked.
Slade commented: “Statistics can be diced in different ways to present different insights according to the views you represent. So while the MoJ’s headline is a 15% drop if you dig a little deeper you get a different picture. For example, when looking at the impact on small and micro businesses who are more likely to face single claims – the report shows 2 per cent fewer claims compared to the previous period. However, set that against the fact that there were 6 per cent fewer disposals and this actually means a net rise of 4 per cent. While you could of course argue that these figures are relatively static, they are not the 15 per cent headline being put across by the MoJ.”
Slade also called for a breakdown of the statistics to show trends for micro and small businesses.
“This is where the impact of a claim is really felt,” he said. “For medium and large enterprises they may have in-house HR or legal functions, and most certainly broader management teams compared to micro or small firms where the disruption is often at director/owner level, which obviously means a proportionately larger burden on management. So, in this case, smaller in terms of the size of the company definitely means bigger in terms of real impact on the business.”
Slade concluded: “We are delighted to see that the overall number of applications is coming down. However, the government must do more to ease the burden for small and micro businesses specifically. The fees for tribunal applications are clearly an obvious route for this but frustratingly we are no further on from seeing this implemented. The Prime Minister has regularly stated that small and micro businesses are the life blood of the economy and so he must stand by his word and do more to help them.”