The Tribunal Annual statistics for 2009/10 have just been published. So, have the new disciplinary and grievance procedures encouraged early resolution of disputes as hoped? What effect has the recession had?
Well, the headline figure shows a 56% increase from last year in the number of claims accepted by Employment Tribunals – they are now at their highest ever level. This is hardly a surprise given the economic hardship that many employers have faced in the past year and the dismissals that have resulted. In better economic times, some employees might find another job quickly, meaning their claim might not be worth bringing – but that is obviously not the case at the moment. There was a 17% increase in the number of tribunal claims associated with unfair dismissal, breach of contract and redundancy and this is likely to be a direct consequence of the recession.
The increased number of claims has of course had a knock on effect on the Tribunal system, and cases are taking longer to reach a hearing. It may be that the system is further affected this year as a result of the extensive cutbacks needed in the public sector.
Unfortunately no employers are immune from Tribunal claims and even when you follow a procedure to the letter, an employee still may feel wronged and bring a claim. However, ensuring that you have robust but fair procedures, and taking advice at an early stage should minimise the risk and give you the best defence to any claims that do come along.
Are you dealing with any Tribunal claims? Do you have an issue that you think might end up in Tribunal? Why not give us a call for a free initial chat to talk things through? See our contact us page for our details.