The quarterly tribunal statistics for July to September 2020 have been released and they reveal some unwelcome news for employers. The number of employment tribunal claims rose to the highest level since 2013/2014 and there has been an increase in the outstanding caseload as the tribunal system faces challenges posed by Covid-19.
What do the statistics show?
Compared to the same period last year the statistics show that for July to September:
- Single employment tribunal claims increased by 13%
- Outstanding caseload rose by 22%
- It’s taking five weeks longer to close cases – the mean age of cases at disposal is now 39 weeks
In terms of claims, the most common complaint made to employment tribunals during that period was unlawful deductions from wages. This marks a change in the trend for 2020 as the most common complaint had previously been unfair dismissal.
The rise in employment tribunal claims may continue as the economy has been severely impacted by Covid-19 and some employers are faced with making difficult decisions. It will be important for employers to be alert to employment law if they are considering taking action in relation to employees.
Common issues employers may find themselves facing over the coming months include:
If an employer is considering making redundancies, it’s important to plan ahead and to ensure they are aware of the steps that are involved. In most cases in addition to having what in law is considered a genuine redundancy situation, it will usually be necessary to warn and consult with employees before redundancies are made and to consider whether there is any alternative work. It’s important for employers to get support from the outset when it comes to redundancy. Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd can provide practical advice on an employer’s situation from the planning stage and throughout the process.
Many organisations will be keeping their staffing needs under review as they are facing what can be rapidly changing circumstances. If an employer is considering furloughing an eligible employee it’s important to remember that an appropriate furlough agreement will be needed and to be mindful of employees’ rights whilst on furlough, such as those in relation to unfair dismissal, holiday and holiday pay.
Whilst the furlough scheme was due to end on 31st March 2021, it has recently been announced that it has been extended until the end of April which will hopefully provide some welcome support to employers who need it.
Changing terms and conditions
Some employers may wish to change employees’ terms and conditions, such as reducing or removing contractual benefits. It’s important to bear in mind that this will usually involve consultation to try to gain employee agreement to the proposed change. As changing terms and conditions can be a tricky area, particularly if employees are likely to object to the proposed change, it’s important to seek advice on the steps to follow before taking any action. If changes are simply imposed on employees, this can give rise to employment tribunal claims.
Whatever employment law matter your organisation finds itself facing it’s important to seek advice on the facts of your case. Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd is here to help so please do not hesitate to contact us.