The Government is failing in its attempt to make the employment tribunal system more efficient and cost-effective and to drastically reduce the number of claims made, according to figures on Employment Tribunals 2011-2012, released on Wednesday by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).
Despite the Government aiming to cut down the cost of the tribunal system, there was only a 2% decrease in the number of single claims brought against an employer and this coincides with an outstanding backlog of over half-a-million employment tribunals still outstanding.
Andreas White, a partner at London-based law firm, Kingsley Napley, said this could take “several years”.
“With George Osborne dramatically squeezing the tribunal budget, there is no way they can deal with this backlog. There needs to be a lot more resources but they will be hard to get this as it costs over £70 million to maintain the current tribunal system,” said White.
The report states that the vast majority of the outstanding backlog of claims are mainly multiple ones (514,300 in total). Multiple claims are often legally and factually complex and it is common for action on such claims to be deferred. This means that such claims are not yet ready to have a final hearing in the employment tribunal and so the claim cannot be progressed.
According to the findings, the outstanding workload at 31 March 2012 includes more than 200,000 resubmitted Airline Working Time Regulations claims (a legacy of BA strike actions), with approximately 15% of these claims also having a Wages Act component. It also includes a number of equal pay claims (brought primarily against local authorities and the NHS).
In the year 2011/2012, multiple claims decreased by 19%, which is why claims did fall overall, but White thinks it could be a long time before there is a drop in single and multiple claims: “I do think the overall trend will continue to go down, which means they could clear the backlog. But it’s so big and some of them are so complex that the only way there will be a large decrease in claims is if Osborne commits more taxpayers’ money into the system.”
The report covered Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal activity for the year 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012.