Employment Tribunal statistics highlight threats to business

View Latest News Publish Date: 15-Sep-2011

Employment Tribunal statistics highlight threats to business

The new 'Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals Statistics 2010-11' published by the Ministry of Justice and the HM Courts & Tribunals Service show that businesses that don't train their managers to engage fully with employees and comply with the latest employment legislation leave themselves open to costly and time consuming employment tribunals.


The main finding of the report is that the number of employment tribunal claims overall went down last year by 8 per cent from the previous year, which is great news for Industry. However, there were significant increases in claims relating to the European Working Time Directive (up by 20 per cent), age discrimination (up by 32 per cent), and regulations for part-time workers (almost trebled).


The report also showed that of the 244,000 claims that were concluded, the largest number (39 per cent) related to unfair dismissal, breach of contract and redundancy, while 16 per cent of claims were for unauthorised deductions and 11 per cent were for equal pay.


Michael Millward of Abeceder H2R says that although it is good news that the overall number of claims has gone down, businesses should remain concerned about the rise in complaints relating to discrimination.


Michael Slade of Biddy Consulting and Support said that closer examination of the awards made by tribunals is staggering. While the average awards made for race, sexual orientation, sex, or disability discrimination run at £11,551, the average award for discriminating based on age was £30,200. This is almost three times the average of all other claims.


Clearly the risk of an employee making a claim for age discrimination is something that employers really need to get a grip of says Michael Slade. Employers should review their current policies and levels of staff training and competence to ensure they are not left vulnerable to such claims."


Almost a third of claims are withdrawn before they get to tribunal. This may be because claimants recognise that their claim has no chance of winning or because they reach agreement with their employer.


Unfortunately regardless of whether the claim reaches tribunal or is settled or withdrawn prior to reaching the hearing employers still face the inconvenience and extra workload of dealing with the claim, not to mention the cost of the settlement, says Michael Millward.


It makes sense for managers to invest the time and energy in preventing the discrimination in the first place. Every organisation should encourage their managers to get closer to their employees, so that potential grievances can be identified before they escalate and employees feel the need to make formal complaints or instigate legal action.

Members of the Work Place Learning Centre team are available to provide journalists and media organisations with expert comment on all aspects of learning at work.

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