The latest Employment Tribunal Statistics make for interesting reading (no, really). The first full set of data since the fee regime was introduced is now available.
So what do the statistics have to say? In 2012/13 the Employment Tribunal received on average 50,000 new claims per quarter. Provisional figures for Oct – Dec 2013 show there were less than 10,000 claims. Volatility month on month is nothing new, but this decline is more than significant.
Overall, claims are down 79%.
And yes, you did read that correctly.
The number of single claims has dropped by around 63%.
And I don’t think that is a good thing.
This might sound strange from someone sitting on the employer side of the fence. And I have certainly had my fair share of weak claims, vexatious claims and just plain stupid claims. In fact, I once had a claim from a man about his right to time of for antenatal appointments. But here’s the thing. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than any claim my employer might have to fight. It’s about the common good. About what is right. It’s about every employee that has been treated appallingly by their employer. It’s about every dodgy, exploitative employer that has discriminated, unfairly dismissed, or denied someone their statutory rights.
In that 79%, there will be employees taking a punt on a payout. There will be some employees with an axe to grind. Some employees who have Googled the law and are making it up as they go along. (I also once dealt with someone who had found some very useful legislation that supported their claim. Unfortunately it had been enacted in New Zealand and they lived in Hull).
I’ve rarely met a claimant who did not completely believe in their claim. So something is stopping them. Several unions are funding claims for their members, who presumably are included in the 21% of claimants who still have the ability to bring a claim. I cannot help but conclude that the low paid are being denied access to justice.
It was once said that justice is like the Ritz. Open to everyone. But of course only the rich can afford it. And maybe now the same can be said about the employment tribunal.
The introduction to fees may have saved me a claim or two. Saved me some money from the legal budget. But I don’t feel good about it, all the same.