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News from the sharp end

08 July 2010

The number of people seeking to resolve a workplace dispute by going to tribunal has shot up since the start of the recession, with around 90,000 cases heard last year – nearly 33 per cent up on the average for the previous three years.

A survey of 2008 employment tribunal applications has been published recently. Willans has picked out a few trends and statistics from the hefty document, which runs to nearly 300 pages.

  • Claimants are more likely to be men, managerial workers or aged 45 or over.
  • Small employers are much more likely to face a tribunal claim: 27 per cent of cases came from workplaces with fewer than 25 employees whereas only 19 per cent came from organisations with 250+ employees.
  • It takes employers an average of 5 days of their time to deal with a tribunal claim.
  • In 7 out of 10 cases, the employees had put their concerns in writing to their employers and had a formal meeting with them before bringing a claim. This suggests that most employers should be able foresee the possibility of a claim and perhaps introduce better handling initially, in order to prevent it.
  • Over half of all claims were settled, with the average settlement amount being £5,431. By comparison, the average award made by tribunals in claims successful at hearing was £12,052.

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