Record redundancies leave employment tribunals struggling to cope

  • Data released by HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS) shows outstanding employment claims have increased by more than a third since start of pandemic
  • New claim receipts in October were up by a quarter on ‘pre-Covid baseline’ figures.
  • Average “clearance time” for single claims has increased by more than a month (36 days) since March, with some more complex cases now being listed for 2022.

Chris Millward, Head of Claims at ARAG:

“The record number of redundancies reported by the Office for National Statistics this week sits in stark contrast with today’s HMCTS data, which reveals a tribunal system unable to cope with a wave of employment claims that is only just beginning to flood in.

We have been watching the employment tribunal backlog increase every week since March, and it is now approaching 50,000 cases. At the same time, we’re hearing about new cases being listed as far in the future as 2022.

It’s encouraging that the government has taken steps to address the backlog, such as greater use of virtual hearings and deploying non-specialist judges, but it’s far from certain these will be sufficient.

The rapid adoption of virtual hearings has been fairly successful to date, but can only go so far, and it is difficult to see where so many underutilised judges will be found with so many other areas of law facing similar case backlogs.

The huge increase in calls about redundancy that we and ACAS received over the summer leaves us in no doubt that we’re about to see an influx of claims far beyond the tribunal system’s capacity, which has been reduced by closures and cuts over the past decade.

It is clear that cases coming into the employment tribunal system today may have to wait years to be heard. As well as making it harder to resolve disputes, this leaves both businesses facing a claim and employees who may have been unfairly treated in an impossible position. Access to justice delayed is access to justice denied.”

Authored by ARAG


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