Summary of the key findings

  • An 8% fall overall in Tribunal claims.
  • An overall trend of an increasing number of claims, given that claims increased dramatically in the 2009-10 period.
  • A 4% decrease in multiple claims. Last year, the steep increase was largely the result of multiple claimant claims, which rose by nearly 90 per cent on the same period in 2008-9.
  • The largest single category of claims were again those brought about working time (30% of claims). This category is closely followed by claims for unfair dismissal, breach of contract and redundancy (28%) and unauthorised deductions from wages (or Wages Act claims) which made up 19% of cases.
  • Although most claims alleging discrimination have shown a small drop, sex discrimination claims have continued to rise, as have age discrimination cases which have risen by 32% (5,200 to 6,800).
  • For the third year in succession, equal pay disputes have reduced in number.
  • Complaints that employers have failed to consult properly about proposed mass redundancies have seen a small decrease from last year's figures. In the 12 months to the end of March 2009 there were 11,400 such claims. For 2009-10, that figure decreased to 7,500. This year there is a further reduction to 7,400.
  • A dramatic increase in the number of claims brought under the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

Comment

The figures show a further significant increase in the number of age discrimination claims: 6800, compared with the previous year's 5200 claims. As employees are becoming increasingly aware of their rights in this area, especially with the well publicised removal of the default retirement age, it is likely that this trend will continue in all sectors.

Numerous claims are still attributable to multiple claimant claims in which two or more people bring cases arising out of the same or very similar circumstances, often with union support.

The decrease in unfair dismissal claims (57,400 to 47,900) together with the decrease in the number of claims that employers have failed to fulfil their collective consultation obligations properly in mass redundancy situations may be an indication that the worst of the recession is over, for the private sector at least. On the other hand, it may simply be an indication of the success of ACAS’s pre-claim conciliation service which was expanded in April 2009. ACAS boasted that by the end of August 2010 over 80% of the cases in which both employers and employees had agreed to conciliate had been resolved without turning into tribunal claims.

The Government will inevitably be delighted that its long held aspiration of reducing the number of employment tribunal complaints has succeeded. However, continued concern over the ability of the tribunal system to continue to process this huge number of claims on a limited budget has been expressed for considerable time and these figures do little to indicate any relief from that pressure. However, the Government’s recent announcement that it will increase the qualifying period to bring unfair dismissal claims from one to two years will no doubt have some impact on these statistics in the longer term.

Click here to view the Employment Tribunals and EAT Statistics, 2010-11.