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Tribunal
  • Published:
    15 November
  • Area of Law:
    Employment

Majority of businesses expect Employment Tribunal claims to increase

  • 96 per cent of business owners expect employment tribunal claims to increase
  • Only 16 per cent intend to review their employment practices as a result
  • Yet, majority (57 per cent) agree that tribunal fees were a barrier to justice

Following the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to revoke employment tribunal fees, business owners in the West Midlands expect to see an increase in claims, according to new research from law firm Shakespeare Martineau.

The research revealed that while the majority (57 per cent) of employers in the West Midlands recognised that tribunal fees were a barrier to justice, 96 per cent expect their removal will lead to further claims.

In fact, employers’ fears may already be being proven correct. While the survey showed that almost three quarters (73 per cent) of respondents believe it is ‘too early to say’ whether claims have already increased, information provided by ACAS shows that claims in the West Midlands were up 14 per cent in April to September 2017, when compared to the same period last year. Early conciliations were also shown to be up from 350 per week to 400 per week.

Despite this clear and present danger, employers are failing to act. Only 16 per cent of local employers are currently intending to review their HR or employment practices to safeguard against the potential rise in employment claims, according to the survey results.

Mike Hibbs, employment law partner at Shakespeare Martineau’s Birmingham office, said:

“The research should act as a stark reminder to employers not to rest on their laurels. West Midlands business owners are clearly fully aware of the risks and expect a rise in tribunal claims in the coming months, yet many are not acting to protect themselves. While the implementation of fees didn’t act as a deterrent to all unwarranted claims, the Supreme Court’s decision may still have incentivised months-worth of previously dissuaded claims being brought.

“Perhaps most troubling is the revelation that very few local employers currently intend to review their HR or employment practices.”

Mike Hibbs advises:

“Businesses in the area need to be acting now to make sure they’re not only prepared, but also implementing preventative measures. Many local employers may have been staffing their HR departments to cover a lower requirement of employment claim handling. It is important to ensure that they are adequately trained and resourced in the management of claims, while also being actively engaged with promoting positive relations amongst employees.

“Similarly, all line managers need to be proficiently trained in good day-to-day practice when dealing with employees. This way, employers can avoid costing their businesses in hefty settlement bills or with the burden of potentially lengthy tribunals.”

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