Employment tribunal cases have soared since the Supreme Court ruled in the summer that fees were unlawful, official statistics confirm.
Some 3,045 single cases were filed in August – a month-on-month rise of 124% and an increase of 109% on August 2016, figures from the Ministry of Justice show.
The Supreme Court ruled in July that fees introduced in 2013 were unlawful and the government committed to refunding those paid. Minutes of a meeting of the National User Group of Employment Tribunals earlier this week reported that numbers were rising again, which is confirmed by MoJ statistics covering the third quarter.
The number of multiple cases jumped from 75 in July to 181 in August, meaning total cases increased 125% to 3,226.
In both single and multiple employment tribunal cases, the September figures were lower than August but still almost double the same month in 2016. Even with these increases, however, claims are still well down on those recorded before fees were introduced.
Vikki Wiberg, senior counsel at international firm Taylor Wessing, said the figures should force employers to take notice of the changed landscape in employment law, with employees no longer dissuaded from making claims. She added: ‘Tribunal fees might have given employers a false sense of security, enabling some to relax their management practices on the assumption that employees wouldn’t pay £1,200 to take their claims to the employment tribunal.
‘Whilst this was not to be recommended, these statistics bear out how urgent it is for employers to get their house in order.’
Employment law expert Darren Newman said the government may have to rethink cuts to the courts system after fees artificially suppressed the number of claims. He tweeted: ‘The big employment law question for 2018 is whether the tribunal system will cope with a large and sudden rise in the number of claims.
‘Will we go back to the days of cases taking over a year to get to a hearing and waiting rooms full of “floating’”cases?’