Tribunal figures just released by the government show an increase of 82 per cent in multiple cases brought in the last quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019.
In all, there were 29,000 cases received from October to December 2020 which were part of 1,000 multiple claim cases (averaging 27 claims per case). In the same period a year ago, there were 630 multiple claim cases with an average of 12 claims per case. The number of multiple cases disposed of increased by 66 per cent, while cases waiting to be heard rose by 12 per cent.
The number of single claims increased by 25 per cent to 13,200 in the current quarter, when compared to the same period in 2019. The number of single claims disposed of by the tribunal system remained stable when compared to the same period in 2019, while the outstanding caseload rose by 36 per cent. The government has put this rise down to an increase in unemployment and changes to working conditions during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In October to December 2020, 27 per cent of disposals were ACAS conciliated settlements (the most common outcome this quarter), 22 per cent were dismissed on withdrawal, 20 per cent were withdrawn, nine per cent were struck out (not at a hearing) and seven per cent were successful at hearing.
The most common jurisdictional complaint disposed of between October to December 2020 related to working time. In comparison unfair dismissal was the most common complaint in October to December 2019.
The number of outstanding cases (currently 44,000) continues to rise, and the government predicts that the increase in the number of claims could be accelerated further when the furlough scheme ends in Autumn 2021 (see the article below for more on this).
The number of employment tribunal fee refunds has now slowed to a trickle. From the launch of the scheme in October 2017 up to 31 December 2020 there were 22,000 applications received and 23,000 refund payments made totalling £18.5 million. But in the last two quarters of 20/21 the number of refund applications were down to 22 and then 39.
Neil Todd of Thompsons commented: “Tribunals were struggling with case numbers even before the pandemic. They are now under even greater pressure as workers are forced to turn to them as rights are abused and job losses mount. The system is crying out for greater funding to clear the backlog, reduce waiting times and enable individuals to access justice. If that does not happen there is a real risk that workers will lose faith in a system set up for them to enforce their workplace rights.”
You can read the statistics in more detail here.