Fall in employment tribunal claims no excuse for employer complacency

Employers should not be complacent about the number of claims accepted by employment tribunals falling by a fifth, according to law experts.

Figures published by the Tribunals Service this week revealed that 151,000 claims had been accepted in 2008-09, a decrease of 20% on the 2007-08.

However, the findings also showed an increase in the number of single claims accepted – they jumped to 63,000 in 2008-09 – a rise of 15% on the year before.

Stephen Simpson, senior employment law editor at XpertHR, said it was important employers were not fooled by the fact that the overall number of claims had gone down.

“Putting aside multiple claims, the number of single claims actually went up by 15%,” he told Personnel Today.

“With claims relating to redundancy increasing dramatically and equal pay claims falling, it appears that employees are putting keeping their jobs ahead of worrying about how much they are paid.”

He added that employers should be particularly vigilant about discriminating when making employees redundant.

“Compensation for discrimination is unlimited and age discrimination complaints, which are often linked to redundancy selection processes, are continuing to rise,” he said.

Conciliation body Acas pointed out the rise in unfair dismissal, redundancy payments and wages cases followed the pattern of previous recessions.

Keith Mizon, Acas director of individual dispute resolution, said: “Misunderstanding redundancy selection processes, which can be complex, or poorly communicating them, can leave people feeling unfairly treated.

“We would encourage employers to contact us for advice on how to avoid or manage redundancies or movement to short time working properly before taking any action.”

James Wilders, employment law partner at law firm Dickinson Dees, said: “Many businesses could have avoided the additional cost and aggravation of such claims with more care in handling redundancy or disciplinary situations.

“With costs ordered in just 0.25% of cases, there is little deterrent to dissuade employees from pursuing claims, whether weak or strong. With budgets tight, employers must tread extremely carefully in regarding how they treat their employees to ensure they do not expose themselves to arduous legal action, particularly at a time they can ill-afford it,” Wilders added.

Comments are closed.