Tribunal claims increase by 56% to the highest level ever recorded

The number of claims accepted by employment tribunals has increased by 56% to the highest level on record, according to new data.

Figures published by the Tribunal Service reveal the number of claims accepted by employment tribunals in 2009-10 increased to 236,100, up from 151,000 the previous year.

The number of claims associated with redundancy pay also shot up by 76% from 10,800 in 2008-09 to 19,000. Unfair dismissal claims also increased by 9% to 57,400.

Meanwhile, age discrimination claims rose by 37% to 5,200. And claims associated with the Working Time Directive also increased sharply by 297% to 95,200 in 2009-10.

But equal pay employment tribunal claims dropped during 2009-10 by 18% to 37,400.

The number of disposals – cases withdrawn, settled, dismissed, or decided at a final hearing – by employment tribunals increased by 22%, but this did not keep pace with claim receipts as more than 400,000 claims remained outstanding.

Due to this backlog there was a significant drop in the number of claims in which the first hearing took place within 26 weeks of the claim being received. This fell from 74% to just 65%.

Susie Munro, an employment law editor at XpertHR, told Personnel Today: “The 56% rise in the number of claims received by the employment tribunals is clearly going to have an impact on how long it takes for cases to be dealt with.

“The number of cases disposed of by the employment tribunals also rose, but only by 22%, so this suggests that there will be a backlog of cases stacking up waiting to be dealt with.”

Munro said the overall rise in employment tribunal claims could be explained by the recession and a significant increase in multiple claims submitted last year – which involve a number of individuals bringing claims relating to the same incident, such as a TUPE decision.

She added: “The recession also provides a likely explanation for the increase in unfair dismissal claims and redundancy claims.

“Not all of the figures reveal a general trend though; there are some apparent anomalies, such as the rise in working time cases. The figures for working time cases are affected by a group of 10,600 multiple claims brought by airline employees, which are resubmitted every three months. Particular multiple claims could also explain the drop in the number of equal pay claims submitted last year.”

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