Rise in number of employment tribunal claims 'sparked by decision to introduce fee'

The decision to introduce a fee probably prompted the increase that has been seen in the number of claims received by employment tribunals, a firm of legal specialists has said.

It is thought the surge was caused by more claims being issued before the deadline to avoid the payment of a tribunal fee, a trend that is said to have left the service struggling to process them all.

It has also been suggested that the claims being made are becoming more complex and expensive for employers to defend.

According to newly released figures from the Government the period between April and June this year saw 10% more claims received by employment tribunals than during the same months in 2012.

The data suggests that the biggest increase during the period was among claims related to sex discrimination and equal pay.

Glenn Hayes, an employment law expert and a partner based at the Leeds office of Irwin Mitchell, said there was plenty of evidence to suggest that the jump in the number of cases received during the period was caused by the introduction of tribunal fees in July.

And he added that another increase was set to follow over the next three-month period.

He said: "This increase is likely to be followed by a further surge across the next three months as claims have been issued immediately before the deadline to avoid having to pay the Tribunal fee. Because of this, it remains to be seen whether this will then even itself out over the course of the year."

Mr Hayes said from speaking to staff at the tribunal service it appeared they'd been "inundated" with claims and were having "some difficulty in processing the sheer volume this has produced in one go".

The Irwin Mitchell partner said there was also evidence suggesting that the claims being made were becoming more complicated "with people submitting discrimination and other claims, such as whistleblowing claims, where there has been much publicity".

Mr Hayes added: "This may particularly be true in the public sector and in organisations such as the NHS, which in turn creates more complicated and expensive claims for employers to defend."

Copyright Press Association 2013