The Ministry of Justice has published the annual Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal statistics for 2011-2012, covering the period up to 31 March 2012.
The statistics show an interesting trend both in the number of claims being submitted and also in the number of cost awards being made (the latter overwhelmingly in favour of the Respondent). Overall, the number of Tribunal claims reduced by 15% when compared to figures from the previous year, and by 21% when compared to 2009-10.
The mean average award for unfair dismissal now stands at £9,133, with the median average standing at £4,560 – a statistic which should act as a timely reminder to Claimants who expect a successful Tribunal claim to bring them dramatic windfalls rather than a proper assessment of their actual loss.
Interestingly, cost awards appear to be on the increase. The statistics are somewhat skewed owing to one case in which a cost award was made against multiple Claimants, but even disregarding this, costs were awarded in over 100 more cases in 2011-2012 than in the previous year.
So, what does all of this mean for employers? The decrease in claims suggests that potential claims are either being resolved or settled at an early stage. Whilst fewer Tribunal claims can only be good news for employers, experience suggests that this does not equate to fewer disputes overall, which still take up significant employer resources even if no claim is ultimately issued. A more interesting statistic may be the number of employees exiting by means of a Compromise Agreement.
For those employees who do bring Tribunal claims, the threat of having to pay the employer’s costs has grown in recent years as Tribunals have steadily become more willing to penalise nuisance Claimants or those who do not conduct their claim in a reasonable fashion. The threat of costs can act as a useful deterrent, and highlights the importance of warning the Claimant (at an early stage) that a cost application will be made. In our experience, these cost statistics reflect a general trend which has seen more Tribunals sympathise with an employer who has been held to ransom by an unreasonable employee. However, whilst costs awards may be on the increase, they are still, by no means, the usual outcome.
Of course, these statistics are only up to 31 March 2012 and therefore do not reflect the effect of the changes brought in from April 2012, including the increase in the maximum amount of costs which a Tribunal can award (which rose from £10,000 to £20,000) and a change in the qualifying period needed to bring unfair dismissal claims, rising from one to two years. Interestingly, some types of discrimination bucked the general trend of a drop in the number of claims and instead saw slight increases in comparison to last year’s figures. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether the increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal will result in increased discrimination claims, as many commentators have speculated might happen. For now, it is a case of watch this space…
Summary of statistics
|Claim submitted||2010-11||2011-12||Difference (+/-)|
|Unfair dismissal||47,900||46,300||– 1600|
|Disability discrimination||7,200||7,700||+ 500|
|Religion and belief discrimination||880||940||+ 60|
|Race discrimination||5000||4800||– 200|
|Age discrimination||6800||3700||– 3100|
|Redundancy – failure to inform and consult||7400||8000||+ 600|