According to figures released yesterday by the Ministry of Justice, employment tribunal claims fell by 15 per cent between April 2011 and March 2012 in comparison to the previous year.
In this period there were 186,300 claims recorded, with single claims falling by 2 per cent and multiple claims by 19 per cent. Of the claims, 46,300 were for unfair dismissal, a slight drop from the previous year and 75 per cent of single claims were disposed of within 32 weeks or less.
These figures are at odds with recent fears that the tribunals system is “completely overstretched”, as warned recently by venture capitalist Adrian Beecroft, who said that the threat of being taken to court had a “terrible effect on employment”.
Dismissing Beecroft’s allegations, XpertHR senior employment law editor Stephen Simpson said: “The 2 per cent decrease in individual claims is the most reliable indicator of the burden faced by employment tribunals compared with a year earlier. It shows that single claims are holding fairly steady and not shooting up, as some sources would have you believe.
“One area that has seen a jump in the number of claims from the previous year is failure to inform and consult on a TUPE situation, up from 1,900 in the previous 12 months to 2,600 this time. Perhaps this reflects the number of companies getting into trouble and being rescued by being bought, with workers dissatisfied over how they have been told about the acquisition.”
Indeed, the number of cases claiming that employers failed to consult staff during mergers and takeovers rose by 36 per cent year-on-year, while cases claiming a failure to consult over redundancies rose by 8 per cent.
The Government is currently looking at bringing the time it takes to consult staff over mass job losses down from 90 days to 30 or 45 days. It remains to be seen whether these figures will impact on that decision.