The rising threat of Employment Tribunal claims | What new quarterly statistics tell us

09 Jan 2020

Featured article from Ellis Whittam.

If you’re concerned about the significant spike in Employment Tribunal claims in recent years, it’s not time to breathe out just yet.

The latest round of statistics from the Ministry of Justice, which allow us to compare the period from July to September 2019 with the same quarter last year, reveal that the fallout from the Supreme Court’s decision to abolish fees is yet to subside – if indeed it does at all.

Greater risk of a claim

The key point to take away is that single claim receipts are up 38%, from 8,680 claims lodged between July and September 2018 to 12,007 during this same period in 2019. Not only is this a considerable increase year on year, but the previous instalment of quarterly statistics, which allowed us to compare April to June 2018 to April to June 2019, revealed a smaller 16% increase, further highlighting that the number of cases involving one individual bringing a claim against an employer continues on an upwards trajectory.

Disposals aren’t keeping pace with new claims

Meanwhile, disposals (cases completed in one way or another) increased by just 4%. With 38% more claims received, one might expect that roughly 38% more claims would be completed, if the system is efficient; however, this is evidently not the case. Add in the fact that the number of claims outstanding increased by 40%, all of this is indicative of a sluggish system that is struggling to keep up with demand.

What does it all mean?

Naturally, further evidence that claims culture is progressing is concerning for employers, not only in relation to the direct costs involved in dealing with a claim but also the time these situations demand, with an average Tribunal case eating up about 20 hours of an employer’s time, or 60 to 80 hours if they are required to attend as a witness.

While you can’t account for every eventuality, there are practical steps you can take to reduce risk, from ensuring your recruitment and selection practices are effective in selecting the right candidate, to knowing your policies inside out (and applying them consistently), to simply treating people fairly and with respect. Even so, employment law is constantly evolving, meaning employers’ actions or inaction can unwittingly leave them exposed to legal risk. With this in mind, ensuring you receive the right support can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your organisation against the stress, disruption and cost of defending a claim.

Facing an employment-related issue?

With the worrying trend of ever-increasing Tribunal claims showing no signs of slowing down, it pays to take expert advice before acting. For professional, practical guidance on overcoming issues quickly, with minimal disruption and legal risk, contact the NPA Employment Advisory Service on 0330 123 0558 or email