Acas has issued its first annual report since the July 2017 Supreme Court judgment declaring employment tribunal fees unlawful (a previous blog post on the possible effects of that decision can be found here).

The report outlines the rapid increase in the number of claims brought and identifies the most frequent employment disputes which are the basis of these claims.

The report for 2017-18 tells us that:

  • early conciliation notifications increased from 92,251 in 2016-17 to 109,364;
  • tribunal claims received for conciliation increased from 18,647 in 2016-17 to 26,012 albeit the vast majority of these had been through early conciliation first;
  • the Acas helpline answered some 783,000 calls with the most frequent claims being discrimination, dismissal, grievances, the national minimum wage and contract disputes;
  • nearly 500,000 people used Acas’ online helpline.

The heavier workload has increased pressure and demands not just on Acas but also on the Tribunal Service. A survey carried out in April by the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) revealed that:

  • 90 per cent of respondents said they had experienced delays in tribunals dealing with interim applications;
  • More than half (57%) said they had experienced delays in receiving reserved judgments; and
  • 45% reported postponements of a hearing due to lack of judicial resources.

The survey highlights that tribunals are struggling to keep up with the rising number of claims brought since the Supreme Court ruling last year.