2011-2012 Employment Tribunal Statistics – more details

Following the earlier publication in June of the 2011-12 statistics for the employment tribunal, the Tribunal service have today issued some more detailed statistics for the same period.

Perhaps the headline stat from the latest figures is the remarkably high award made in one particular race discrimination claim – a staggering £4,445,023! There were also high maximum awards made for disability discrimination [£390,871] and age discrimination claims [£144,100]. However, it’s worth noting that these maximum figures are well out of the normal range of awards made by employment tribunals – in contrast the average award for disability discrimination was £22,183, whilst age discrimination saw an average award made of £19,327.

The highest level of awards for unfair dismissal compensation was £173,408 which is of course much more than the normal statutory cap for such claims of £72,300. However that cap on unfair dismissal awards can be exceeded in some cases of health and safety or whistleblowing.

It’s also worth noting again that this year saw a reduction of 15% in the overall level of claims made – 2011-12 saw 186,300 employment tribunal claims made, down from 218,100 claims in 2010 – 11.

Thinking of making an employment tribunal claim? Call our specialist Employment Tribunal Lawyers on 0800 1404544, wherever you live or work in England and Wales.


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.


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.


Employment tribunal fee consultation issued today

A consultation document in relation to fees for employment tribunal cases has today been issued by the MOJ [Ministry of Justice]. The consultation, which is due to close on March 6 next year, sets out 2 broad alternatives for employment tribunal fees;

  • The first alternative involves a variable fee – which would be set according to the type of employment tribunal claim. The first suggested level involves unpaid wages or unlawful deduction of wages claims, the second level would be for unfair dismissal compensation claims and the third level would cover whistle blowing and employment tribunal discrimination claims. The consultation invites comments on what they refer to as “indicative fees” – which range from between £150 and £250 for issuing a tribunal claim up to somewhere between £250 and £1,250 for a fully contested employment tribunal final hearing.
  • The second alternative involves a different fee level – but would be limited to any compensation claim in excess of £30K – and would only involve an issue fee, which could be set somewhere between £200 and £1,750. No further hearing fee would be involved.

The consultation paper also seeks views on many other issues including written judgements, discounts for multiple claims and the possible remission of fees for the low paid or unwaged.

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.


Government plans to restrict unfair dismissal rights – the effect?

Government plans to restrict the qualification period for any employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal compensation to those who been in their current employment for two years [replacing the current 12 month qualifying period ] will, if it is enacted, effectively return the law to the state it was in before 1999. Apparently the main thrust of thinking behind this particular government policy is to assist the faltering economy and to make it easier for businesses to take on new staff – it’s estimated that the number of unfair dismissal claims annually could fall by up to 2000 as a direct result – saving British business an estimated £6m pa.

But on the basis that the government proceed with their plans, are they likely to be challenged? The rules were changed in 2000, largely as the result of a legal challenge – made on the basis that a qualification period of two years unfairly affected women and as result was a form of indirect sex discrimination. So, if the new proposals, do indeed come into force, expect similar types of legal challenges – and probably other ones too – on the basis of the significantly increased levels of employment law protection introduced since the turn of the millennium.

Employment tribunal claims – big changes confirmed

The government has just confirmed details of two significant changes to the employment tribunals system – which is clearly aimed at reducing the number of employment tribunal claims being made.

The first change, as expected, is that with effect from April 1 next year, the qualification period for making an unfair dismissal claim will increase from one year to two.

The second announcement confirms the introduction of application fees for all employment tribunal compensation claims, which are likely to be as follows;

  • £250 form ET1 is initially launched
  • an additional fee of £1000 on listing of the final hearing
  • increased application fees if more than £30,000 compensation is being claimed
  • a refund of all application fees should the claim be successful
  • some form of fee waiver for those on benefits for low-income – though the details of this have not yet been confirmed

This could have a significant effect on the number of claims being made annually – in particular it will remain to be seen whether some employees are quite so keen to take their employment dispute to a tribunal given the size of the application fee – and what will happen to those employment tribunal solicitors running from claims under no win no fee schemes – will they be prepared to fund his sizeable application fees themselves ? Only time will tell.

Latest employment law reform proposals

The government had just issued proposals online of the changes to employment law – as part of an extended attempt to cut red tape, de-regulate business and reduce employment law threats to UK businesses. Oddly enough, they haven’t yet released this information in any form of press release.

With regard to employment law, the principal plans to limit dismissal claim rights are as follows;

  • The qualification period for unfair dismissal compensation increases from 12 months to 2 years
  • they propose introducing a new application fee for making an employment tribunal claim
  • they propose a consultation on amendments to current provisions of the 2010  Equality Act under which employers can be liable for any harassment of their employees by third parties – if they haven’t taken reasonable steps to stop the harassment

We will have to wait and see whether these proposals go through [and these plans were trumpeted by the government some months ago] – but if they do turn into legislation in due course, it is broadly good news for employers but less good for employees, whose employment rights will be reduced.

Employment tribunal claims statistics – interesting details

On examining the statistics from the latest employment tribunal claim statistics for the year ending March 31, 2011, a few statistics really stood out.

Firstly, it was very how very few reinstatement or re-engagement orders were made. Out of 49,600 unfair dismissal claims, tribunals awarded just 8 reinstatements.

Also noticeable were the significant differences between the average award for different types of claim. Claims for unfair dismissal compensation, for example, resulted in an average award of £8924 – this compares with, for example, an average of  £13,911 for sex discrimination claims, £14,130 for disability discrimination and a huge average award of £30,299 for employment tribunal age discrimination claims.

It was also interesting to compare the number of claims made – apart from the huge number of claims involving the working time directive [artificially inflated because of resubmitted multiple claims] and Unlawful Deduction of Wages Claims [there  were remarkably 71,300 of those], unfair dismissal provided the largest number of claims – 47,900. With regard to discrimination cases – equal pay claims dominated [34,600] with sex discrimination claims totaling 18,300. It was particular noticeable that age discrimination cases had almost doubled in 2 years to 6,800 – and given the huge size of the average award for age discrimination, this is perhaps one area where employers should take particular care.