Deminos blames recession for rise in unfair dismissal claims

HR specialist Deminos is blaming the recession for a steep rise in unfair dismissal claims and is warning businesses to beware.

According to the Tribunals Service the number of claims have leapt up 29 per cent to 52,711 for the 2008/09 period, compared to 40,941 the previous year.

Claims for breach of contract have also risen significantly, from 25,000 to around 33,000, as a result of employers changing conditions to counter the recession, Deminos believes.

Deminos managing director Neil Atkinson said: “It’s clear that as employers juggle to balance the books, mistakes are being made with regards to their duty to their workers.

“Changing working conditions can be a tricky business.  While many employees agree to make changes to their working patterns to keep their jobs safe, contractually there can be issues.

“Employers should check contracts and take advice before proposing, or worse imposing, desperate measures to keep a business on track.”

Despite the rise in the number of unfair dismissal and breach of contract claims, the total number of cases received by Employment Tribunals has actually gone down – to 151,028 during 2008/09 compared to 189,303 the year before.

Neil Atkinson added: “While the number of claims has gone up, a large percentage of those claims have not had enough clarity legally to go ahead to the tribunal stage.

“With the financial picture unclear we expect the number of claims to continue rising over the next 12 months.  Employers must follow the law to the letter to avoid unnecessary actions at a point when time and energy needs to be spent on boosting business.”

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