Recent figures reveal that employment tribunal claims have increased significantly, seeing the highest rate of single employment tribunal claims since 2012/13. 

A recent report by the Ministry of Justice reveals that employment tribunals claims involving individuals during April -June 2020 increased by 18 per cent, compared to the same period last year, which has led to 10,000 claims in the current quarter.

Furthermore, the caseload outstanding stands at 37,000 – greater than the peak levels seen in 2009/10 when it was 36,000 in Q2 of that year. The caseload outstanding has risen by 31 per cent from last year.

The Ministry of Justice claims that these rise in figures are linked to “the impact of Covid-19 and related measures put in place by the different jurisdictions”. In particular, the Government cites “unemployment and changes to working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic”. It also predicts that these number of claims will continue to rise as the government’s Job Retention scheme comes to an end at the end of October.

Sarah Evans, Employment lawyer at Constantine Law, said:

As the global economy teeters on the brink of recession, the second wave of Covid is here, and unemployment figures rise, paid access to justice is likely to be further squeezed.

Since the abolition of fees, the number of claims issued has risen steadily, and this will continue to be the case simply because of the volume of dismissals, and because of businesses in real trouble trying to survive and reducing jobs.

Asha Kumar, Employment partner at Keystone Law, urges employers to vigorously adhere to fair redundancy procedures to avoid future ET claims, stating:

 For businesses who have to make tough decisions about their workforce, it’s important that employers vigorously adhere to fair redundancy procedures to avoid any future Employment Tribunal claims. They also need to ensure that, in addition to an individual redundancy process, they comply with the collective redundancy consultation process where this is triggered by the number of employees being made redundant.

It is too early to tell whether the redundancies will translate into increased Employment Tribunal claims, but history shows that following the last recession in 2009–10, the number of claims rose by 56% compared to the previous year. Of those claims, the focus was on unfair dismissal, breach of contract and redundancy. We can expect the claims flowing from the current wave of redundancies to be similar, given the current climate. Similarly to the last recession, employees are not readily securing alternative employment and this may make them more likely to bring and actively pursue claims where there are grounds to challenge the fairness of their dismissal.