The Ministry of Justice has published the annual Employment and Employment Appeal Tribunal statistics for the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012. Set out below are some of the more interesting things to note.
Employment Tribunals received an overall total of 186,300 claims during 2011-12, equating to a 15% overall reduction in claims. Given that the government’s employment tribunal reform programme is predicated on the view that UK businesses, particularly small businesses, are overburdened by employment law regulation and fear of employment claims it is interesting to note that the number of claims has been falling year on year since 2009.
The largest sum awarded was in a race HR claim and was for a massive £4,445,023. Other HR claims such as disability and age also saw high maximum awards (£390,871 & £144.100 respectively). Whilst these are the cases that you often read about in the press bear in mind that these are the 'show stoppers': the average award for race was £102.259; £22,183 for disability; and £19,327 for age HR.
While HR claims continue to demand the highest awards, the typical unfair dismissal claim is a far cry from these six and seven figure sums. One must, therefore, surely question whether or not the much vaunted government reforms designed to rein in high awards is necessary particularly given that the median award for an unfair dismissal claim is under £5,000. Indeed, the statistics show that in most cases the government reforms will have no impact.
Finally, at first blush an interesting statistic is in relation to the number of costs awards made by Tribunals which has seen a rise from 487 to 1,411. This would seem to suggest that Tribunals are being more inclined to award costs. However, on closer analysis, 800 of the 1,411 were, in fact, one multiple case which involved 800 claimants, all of whom were ordered to pay costs. Accordingly, if this case is counted as one, not 800, then the increase in the number of costs awards is slight, from 487 to 612, and which is more in line with the norm of tribunals being reluctant to award costs.