The Tribunal reform is already taking effect. Here is the proof
The Tribunal Service has just published some interesting statistics, breaking down the claims, awards and averages over the twelve months to 21 March 2012.
Contrary to what we might be told by Vince and the BIS team, the effects of Tribunal reform already seem to be having an effect, even before they are finalised or implemented, with a 15% fall in the number of claims (down to 186,300) from the previous year.
Of those, 110,800 progressed to a Tribunal hearing for disposal.
The push to encourage Employment Judges to be more confident in making costs awards against litigating parties has risen from 487 to 612 cases. Although this represents only a tiny proportion of all claims presented, of the awards that were made, 81% were in favour of Respondent employers. The maximum costs award was £36,466 but the average award was only £1,292 – most likely far below the actual costs of litigation. The median costs award was only £5, which was surely only intended as a nominal amount.
Whilst there is currently a consultation taking place about what the unfair dismissal cap should be going forward, the highest unfair dismissal award last year was £173,408, far in excess of the current cap of £72,300. However, the cap does not apply where the unfair dismissal is for whistleblowing or certain health and safety reasons. The mean average unfair dismissal award was only £9,133 and the median, £4,560.
Discrimination claims always attract the headlines and last year did not fail to deliver, with a huge award of £4,445,023 being awarded in a race discrimination claim. This will undoubtedly have skewed the median and average award profile for all claims, not just those relating to discrimination. Other attention grabbing awards were made in cases of disability discrimination (£390,871) and age discrimination (£144,100).
In the next 12 months, the 24 month qualifying period for unfair dismissal (introduced in April 2012) will take effect and expected to reduce the number of claims being presented still further. Looking further ahead, although Tribunal fees are not likely to be introduced before next summer, once they are we can expect a further significant reduction in the number of claims both being presented and reaching hearing stage – at least that is what the Government is hoping for. Maybe these reforms will have some bite after all, at least for employers, if not employees.
This article first appeared at www.londonlovesbusiness.com on 20 September 2012