Our thoughts on the world of employment law - and beyond.

Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications – some interesting findings

Earlier today, BIS published the findings from its Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications 2013.  The survey forms part of a series which aims to provide information on the characteristics of the parties, and the key features of, employment tribunal cases.  Responses were drawn from approximately 2,000 Claimants and 2,000 employers. A copy of the report can be found here. Some of the key findings include:

  • In 56% of cases there had been some discussion between the parties before a claim was submitted and in 39% of cases a formal meeting had taken place.  This makes very interesting reading, particularly in light of the procedure required for a fair dismissal and the Acas Code.
  • Only 54% of Claimants reported that there were written disciplinary and grievance procedures in place.  Interestingly, 92% of the employers surveyed reported that both written disciplinary and grievance procedures existed.  Possibly suggesting a lack of communication/awareness between employer and employee.
  • Among employers, 39% had been involved in employment tribunal claims in the past two years.  The report recognised that larger organisations were more likely to have been involved in a previous claim.
  • Whilst the claims covered by the survey were not subject to fees, Claimants were asked whether a fee would have influenced their decision to make a claim.  The responses indicated that a fee would have influenced the decision of 49% of Claimants.  Those who were more likely to be influenced by the introduction of fees included lower paid employees, those in temporary work and those aged between 20 and 34 years.
  • For those Claimants who said that the presence of a fee would not have influenced their decision to bring a claim, 82% said that they would have paid the fee from their personal income or savings. 
  • In terms of representation, 31% of Claimants nominated a representative on the ET1 whilst 49% of Respondents listed one on their ET3.  Once a claim progressed these numbers increased, with 60% of employers confirming use of a day-to-day representative and 52% of Claimants.  Employers were much more likely to be represented at a final hearing (67% compared with 33% of Claimants).
  • 24% of Claimants and 15% of employers had no advice or representation at all.  It will be interesting to see whether this statistic will change following the introduction of fees.  In our experience it can be extremely frustrating dealing with a Claimant who has received no advice on the merits of their claim and can often increase costs for an employer.  Interestingly, the use of websites in assisting Claimants with their case had increased since the last survey in 2007, with about 57% using the Acas website.
  • In cases where an offer of settlement was made, 79% resulted in a settlement.  The main reasons cited by employers for making a settlement offer were financial and saving time.
  • The median amount of final settlement offers was £2,500.
  • For successful Claimants, the median amount of Tribunal awards was £3,000.
  • Costs were awarded to Claimants in 14% of cases.
  • 33% of employers felt that the case had negative effects on the organisation that were not financial (with smaller employers hit hardest).  In most cases the biggest factor is financial but dealing with claims can affect individuals personally and take up a huge amount of management time.  We always emphasise to clients that the impact of dealing with a Tribunal claim cannot be underestimated.

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