The annual employment tribunal and appeal tribunal statistics published last week by the government undermine its claim that businesses are afraid to recruit staff for fear of being sued, Thompsons says.
The number of claims accepted by tribunals during 2011 to 2012 fell by 15 per cent, which is 21 per cent lower than 2009 to 2010. And although the figures appear to show a sharp rise in the number of costs awards being made in favour of employers, one case consisting of 800 claimants all being ordered to pay costs has skewed the stats.
Although tribunals made 1411 costs awards, with 1295 of those going in favour of employers, in this one case the 800 claimants were made liable for a costs award of £4,000 to the respondent, working out at £5.00 per claimant. In 2010 to 2011, the figures were 487 awards with 355 awarded to employers.
The maximum costs award was £36,466 in 2011 to 2012 (£83,000 in 2010 to 11). The median figure was £5, although again this is skewed by the multiple case. When these are excluded and substituted with one award of £4,000, the median figure is £1,730 (£1,273 the previous year). The average award was £1,292 (£2,830 in 2010 to 2011).
The stats also show a median award of just £4,560 for unfair dismissal cases (£4,591 the previous year) even though the government says that businesses are afraid of high awards being made against them and is planning a cap on unfair dismissal compensation.
Iain Birrell of Thompsons said: “These stats completely demolish the government’s case in favour of introducing employment tribunal fees and capping unfair dismissal awards which they argue are necessary to dissuade claimants from bringing weak or vexatious cases.”
To read the full report download it from the Ministry of Justice website.