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07:14 on Saturday
26 February 2005

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Employers beware as employment tribunals rise


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The Employment Tribunal Service (ETS) has recently published its latest Annual Report, showing that overall the number of applications made by employees to go to tribunal against their employers rose by 17 per cent compared to the previous year.

Peterborough based Solicitors, Hegarty & Co, are alerting employers to review their employment practices to help prevent them from facing an employee at a tribunal.

Employment Solicitor, Joanna Scales, explained, “The total number of Tribunal applications received by the ETS for 2003-04 rose to 115,042 compared to 98,617 in the year before.

Joanna Scales


"The report shows that the largest proportion of cases concern unfair dismissal, which accounts for over 30 per cent of the total number of applications. The next two most common reasons for applications are unauthorised deduction of wages and then breach of contact.”

She continued, “When looking through the report, I was surprised to learn that according to the ETS records, there had been a staggering increase of 76 per cent in sex discrimination cases. However, the ETS is quick to point out that over 7,000 applications relate to a Jobcentre Plus dress code case, so this increase is not as dramatic as it first appears.”

Joanna commented, “There is sometimes a perception that employees are all too eager to take their employers to Tribunal to try to get money out of them. The report shows that the majority of cases were settled through Acas, before reaching Tribunal.”

She continued, “In terms of the compensation that is awarded, regarding unfair dismissal cases the report calculated that the average award was £7,275. This is a lot of money to most businesses, and that is without considering the time & stress and legal fees which are also involved when going to Tribunal.”

For sex, race and disability discrimination there is no set upper limit of compensation. The report highlighted that the maximum amount awarded (that the tribunal was aware of) was £635,150 in a race discrimination case.

Joanna continued, “Dealing with your staff is often the hardest part of a job. In October this year the law tightens up on disciplinary & grievance procedures, and will allow Tribunals to award extra compensation if either side does not follow the procedures properly. If it’s been a while since you updated your employment handbooks, or gave your senior staff training on handling employment issues, now is a good time to have a review.

July 2004

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