Annual Tribunal Statistics show dip in claims

The annual Tribunal Statistics for the year 2011–12 have now been published. With regard to the Employment Tribunal [ ET], there seems to be a general downward trend. For example 186,300 new claims were received by the ET, which compared to the previous 12 month period showed a fall of 15%. However there were significant differences between the reduction of the number of single and multiple claims made – whilst just 2% less single claims were made, there were 19% less multiple ET claims received.

The number of actual disposals of cases by the ET also dropped during 2011 -12. N30,000 cases were finally disposed of, 10% less than the previous year. However, the ET seems to be successfully continuing their attempts to slowly tackle the claims backlog – the number of single claims remaining unresolved by the ET dropped by 7%, a continuation of the trend which began back in 2009.

Of the number of employment tribunal claims actually received, 31% were for unfair dismissal, redundancy or breach of contract, with a further 16% accounted for by deductions in wages claims.

Interestingly, of 230,000 individual complaints that were disposed of during the year, just 12% were successful at the tribunal hearing – far fewer than the 27% of withdrawn and 33% that resulted in a successful ACAS conciliation – though of course it remains to be seen whether these claims were withdrawn as the result of the settlement, and with the ACAS conciliating claims were successfully resolved in favour of the claimant or not.

Pregnancy Discrimination: the most common causes

For female employees who are pregnant or on maternity leave, protection both from unfair dismissal and unlawful discrimination due to pregnancy-related absence exists from day one of employment, regardless of the length of the absence.

Often discrimination occurs when a pregnant female employee is dismissed when they have less than one year’s service. Unfortunately for their employers, pregnancy dismissals are an exception to the rule that you have to have been employed for at least 12 months before you bring an unfair dismissal claim, and female employees also have special protection if made redundant whilst on maternity leave. Employers must offer them any suitable available position and first refusal and they do not need to attend an interview. Failure to comply means that the pregnancy or maternity discrimination dismissal is automatically unfair and may also be deemed sex discrimination, which is not subject to any cap on compensation made following an employment tribunal claim.

Despite this, female employees are commonly dismissed under the following circumstances:

• On return from maternity leave their position simply ‘vanishes’ because it has offered to somebody else in a restructure they were not made aware of

• A genuine restructure results in redundancies but the employer is not aware of the right of a female employee on maternity leave to be offered suitable alternative employment before anybody else is offered the role

• Sickness is used as a weighting criteria during a redundancy programme despite employers being obliged to ignore pregnancy-related sickness in the redundancy selection process

• They are treated less favourably for a reason related to her pregnancy, e.g. absence or maternity leave

• They are selected for redundancy without good reason because they are working part-time or flexibly

To dismiss, make redundant or otherwise treat a female employee in this situation less favourably in relation to a pay rise, promotion or training, is classed as discrimination and the consequence for an employer of failure to comply is a discrimination claim for unlimited employment tribunal compensation, either for injury to feelings or for future loss of earnings and benefits.

If you believe that you have been unfairly dismissed or treated unfairly because of your pregnancy and you’re thinking of making a claim for unfair dismissal compensation or pregnancy discrimination, get in touch with our team of employment solicitors today for specialist employment law advice.


What is classed as Unfair Redundancy?

Redundancy is always classed as unfair if the employer failed to follow proper redundancy procedure, the reasons behind which vary enormously but include:

• If others in the organisation do the same job as you but are not made redundant (collective redundancies are more typical than individual so an employee should check that there are fair reasons for this)

• If a person is made redundant rather than their position, as is correct; in genuine redundancies the employer no longer requires the relevant job functions to be performed

• If an employee asserts their statutory rights, e.g. requesting a written statement of responsibilities from their employer

• If more than 20 people are made redundant simultaneously but the employer has failed to engage in collective consultation

• If somebody else is recruited to fill your position after you have been terminated from it

• Less favourable treatment of part-time workers and fixed-term employees

• Personal dislike or prejudice based on sex, race, religious or age discrimination

• Pregnancy discrimination

• Unhappiness with job performance without following the correct procedures prior to dismissal, such as warnings about performance

• Where the criteria for redundancy are not objectively-based or clearly explained, i.e. if the employer still requires a particular job to be done but not to the same extent as previously, resulting in the need for some of those carrying out the job to be made redundant

If you believe that you have been the victim of unfair redundancy and you’re thinking of making an employment tribunal claim  for redundancy compensation call our team of specialist employment solicitors today for expert advice.


An Employer’s responsibilities regarding Workplace Discrimination

Potentially lawful and fair grounds for the dismissal of an employee include conduct, capability and redundancy. However, an employee cannot be dismissed on lawful grounds alone and disciplinary procedures and stages exist to ensure that fair and reasonable decisions are made in the circumstances.

Qualifying criteria, such as the length of an employee’s service and the right not to be unfairly dismissed, must be factored in when considering dismissal. Some categories of worker other than employees are also entitled to other rights, such as paid leave and regulations preventing the less favourable treatment of part-time workers and fixed-term employees also exist.

Unlawful grounds for the dismissal of an employee are age, disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, and religion or belief, defined as protected characteristics in the Equality Act 2010 Employee dismissal via any of these means is classed as discrimination.

Although workplace discrimination and employment discrimination are not always intentional, motive is irrelevant in all employment discrimination at work cases. For example, a manager will be deemed as discriminating an employee for counting time off due to pregnancy-related illness as absenteeism and, as a result the employee could file a complaint of sex or pregnancy discrimination.

Employees are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and any employer deemed to be acting unreasonably, i.e. to act in such a way that destroys the mutual bond of trust and confidence with their employee, risks being subject to a bullying and harassment claim and complaints of constructive dismissal.

Even if an employer has policies to tackle workplace discrimination, harassment, victimisation and bullying, if they are not implemented it is impossible to prove that they have taken all reasonable steps to avoid employment discrimination. Therefore all employers should ensure that applicable parties should be fully trained in the complexities of workplace discrimination laws. An up-to-date Equal Opportunities and Diversity Policy should be produced so that an employer does not make themselves vulnerable to a claim made to an Employment Tribunal and it is recommended that they consult the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Code of Practice when writing this Policy.

An employer can protect goodwill and staff, their two most valuable assets, by agreeing restrictive covenants, however the Courts scrutinise these closely so the employer should apply due care and attention when drafting any covenants to ensure that they are reasonable.

Whether or not you are an employee who thinks that they might have grounds for an employment tribunal claim, or if you are an employer defending a claim for employment tribunal compensation [or wanting legal advice or assistance on employment law matters in general], one of contact our specialist employment solicitors – initial phone advice is absolutely free – and we also run appropriate cases on no win no fee employment tribunal agreements.


Compensation for Pregnancy Discrimination at work

Any woman who is dismissed from her employment because of her pregnancy is entitled to claim for unfair dismissal compensation. She should seek specialist legal advice from employment solicitors as quickly as possible as there are strict time limit when making this kind of discrimination claim.

Any award compensation the woman may receive will be made of up two components – the basic award and the compensatory award.

The basic award which is determined by the claimant’s age and the length of time she had been working for her employer. These calculations are made in a similar way as those for redundancy payments.

The purpose of the compensatory award is to compensate any financial loss suffered by the claimant following her workplace dismissal. This is calculated by totalling the wages lost by the woman from the time of her dismissal right up to the employment tribunal claim hearing itself. Added to this is an estimated figure for future wages lost.

An additional compensation sum may also be awarded if sex discrimination is proven, as well as for hurt to feelings and any detrimental effects to her health.

Employment law is complex and constantly changing. If you’re thinking of making a claim for employment tribunal compensation, contact our specialist pregnancy discrimination solicitors today on 0800 1404544. Intelligently, to find out more about pregnancy discrimination at work, click here to visit our specialist Pregnancy Discrimination website.


2010-2011 Employment Tribunal statistics released

The 2010-2011 statistics for the Employment Tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal have just been released.

The latest figures actually show a drop of 8% in the number of employment tribunal claims received which contrasted with an increase of 9% in the number of claims that are actually being dealt with at tribunal.

There is, however, a significant difference in the figures between different sorts of claims – for example, whilst the number of employment tribunal redundancy and unfair dismissal claims has dipped slightly, the number of age discrimination claims rose by 15%.

The average award for employment tribunal unfair dismissal compensation was £4,591 with the average discrimination case resulting in compensation of between £5,000-£6,500.

The highest level of unfair dismissal compensation was, for a whopping £181,754 -though the fact that this award exceeds the statutory cap suggests that this dismissal claim may have been in relation to health and safety or a whistleblowing complaint.

Discrimination claims in 2009-2010 saw even higher levels of compensation – the highest award for sex discrimination being £289,167 and for employment tribunal disability discrimination and absolutely enormous £729,347

Unfair dismissal of an employee – not just a matter of common sense

When your employment contract comes to an end by your employer requiring you to leave it is said that you have been “dismissed”.

Any employee who has worked for an Employer for more than one year has statutory rights written into his contact of employment not to be unfairly dismissed. For certain statutory rights e.g. maternity these are given immediately and you do not wait one year.

This means that in order to dismiss fairly the employer has to use a fair procedure to reach a decision to dismiss for  a reason that Statute says is fair. A fair reason can be for  redundancy or capability of the employee or conduct of the employee or that the employee could not continue to work without contravening a statutory duty or restriction.

If an employee is dismissed with these statutory rights the burden is on the employer in any employment tribunal claim to establish a fair reason and procedure for the dismissal.

The original idea was that employment legislation would create an environment where the non lawyer could understand rights and obligations in employment. Instead, even an experienced employment solicitor has to keep regularly updated with the many changes to the law from the cases being fought in the Tribunals and the Courts.

Therefore if you have been, or are being dismissed, or if you are an employer who wants to dismiss someone you will need legal advice on your rights and obligations to make a correct decision either that you have a claim for unfair dismissal compensation or to avoid one being brought against you successfully.

You can find out more about employment law and unfair dismissal employment tribunal claims on our website

When employers fail to make redundancy payments

If an employer fails to make a contractual redundancy payment, the employee has to make a claim within three months. In cases where the employer fails to make a statutory redundancy payment, the employee must make a claim within six months.

In the County Court the time limit for a claim is six years. If the employee’s potential claim is over £25,000, instead of the case being dealt with by an Employment Tribunal claim, it will be dealt with by the County Court.

The Acas Code of Practice (find it at can be the determining factor for claims. The Tribunal has can adjust the claim by 25% either way, depending on whether the employee or employer has followed the Acas Code of Practice.

For specialist legal advice you can trust, contact our expert employment solicitors on 0800 1404544 today.