The latest Ministry of Justice employment tribunal statistics show that the median compensation payout for unfair dismissal is just £4,560 and only 2% of unfair dismissal awards exceed £50,000.
The figures undermine the Government's proposal for a reduced cap on unfair dismissal awards, which was put forward as part of its latest set of employment law reforms announced last week.
Despite business secretary Vince Cable's plans to lower the cap on unfair dismissal awards, today's figures highlight the fact that very few awards approach the existing cap of £72,300.
XpertHR senior employment law editor Stephen Simpson said: "These statistics highlight again that the small number of big payouts that grab the headlines are atypical. They don't support the Government's plan for the unfair dismissal compensation cap to be reduced, or the even more radical suggestion from some business groups that there should be a maximum award payable for discrimination.
"Tribunals rarely give out awards of more than a few thousand pounds and, even when the employer or a member of its staff acts in a disgraceful manner, compensation is unlikely to surpass £20,000. For example, in the recent pregnancy discrimination case of Stone v Ramsay Health Care UK Operations Ltd, in which the employee was given work just two days after she gave birth, the tribunal gave the claimant just £18,000."
The statistics also outline the median compensation awards for race, sex, disability, religious, sexual orientation and age discrimination cases.
The MoJ statistics also pointed to a fall in the number of claims brought at employment tribunals during 2011-12.
The figures, covering employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal activity during the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012, show that 186,300 employment tribunal claims were brought during that time. This is a 15% decrease on the previous year and a 21% fall on 2009-10.
During 2011-12, 59,200 single claims and 127,100 multiple claims were accepted, falls of 2% and 19% respectively.
Visit XpertHR for more detail on the tribunal statistics.