Employment claims plummet

The number of employment tribunal applications has dropped for the second year in succession.
Applications for 2002-03 dropped by 12 per cent, or 13,000, to 99,000 from the previous year. This follows a fall from 127,000 to 112,000 in 2001-02.
The latest set of figures included in the Employment Tribunal Service Annual Report relate to the number of types of claim. So one applicant claiming unfair dismissal and sex discrimination is recorded as two applications.
There was a 3 per cent reduction in the number of individuals lodging claims. The number of registered appeals also dropped from 1,432 to 1,170.
Daniel Barnett, an employment barrister at 2 Gray’s Inn Square, said: “The drop is surprising, although this will change next year because of the introduction of legislation relating to religious and sexual orientation discrimination, and a widening of disability discrimination laws [which will extend liability to employers with 15 or fewer employees].”
The number of cost awards rose dramatically for the third year in succession, reflecting greater willingness on the part of tribunals to offer awards. In the year up to March 2003, awards were granted in 998 cases, compared with 636 in the year before and 247 in the year up to March 2001. However, the cost awards remain quite low, at an average of £1,524.
The highest number of claims in the past year were for unfair dismissal, representing 26 per cent of the total; 23 per cent related to the unlawful deduction of wages; 17 per cent related to breach of contract; and 12 per cent were discrimination claims.
The report also revealed that male staff represent 35 per cent of all tribunal employees, but almost 50 per cent of management.