This briefing note is only intended as a general statement of the law and no action should be taken in reliance on it without specific legal advice.

05 October 2011

It's a numbers game

The Employment Tribunal has published its statistics for the year April 2010 – March 2011.

Overall, the figures contain a lot of good news for employers. Five things of interest are:

  1. The total number of claims accepted by Tribunal was down by 18,000 to 218,100. The majority of the claims are known as ‘multiple claims’, where groups of employees put in claims against the same employer, based on similar facts. A large number of these are airline claims, claiming under the Working Time Regulations. When the multiple claims are stripped out, however, the number of single claims was also down by 15% compared to last year, to 60,600.
  2. For the first time, age discrimination claims outnumbered claims of race discrimination. Over the last five years, they have increased by more than 700%, from around 970 in 2006/2007 to 6800 last year. This trend is set to continue with the abolition of the default retirement age; it is likely that age claims will outnumber disability claims next year.
  3. The huge majority (81%) of cases in all types of claim settled, were struck out or were withdrawn before they came to a full hearing. Of those that did go through to a full hearing, the employer won more often than lost in unfair dismissal claims and every type of discrimination claim. This may be due in part to claimants not being properly advised of their prospects, or not being properly represented. However, it may also be due in part to the employer failing to explain the reasons for their decisions, leading to a sense of unfairness even if the employer was technically in the right.
  4. The median award in discrimination claims was around £6,000 (which suggests that Tribunals have been unwilling to grant significant injury to feelings awards). 
  5. The total number of compensatory awards made in the whole country last year for different types of claim is amazingly low. This is partly because cases will settle before the hearing, and many will settle between the liability hearing and a hearing to determine the size of the award to be given. However, it is still startling to learn that the total number of claims of religious discrimination which led to an award being made was just 10 - the numbers of claims for all types of discrimination are as follows:

    Sex discrimination
    – 173 cases
    Race discrimination
    – 72 cases
    Disability discrimination
    – 72 cases
    Age discrimination
    – 26 cases
    Sexual orientation
    – 12 cases
    Religious discrimination
    – 10 cases

    However, this should not deter employers from ensuring that they comply with their obligations. The figures do not show the amount of money that was paid by employers in order to avoid the bad publicity, wasted management time and the legal fees involved in fighting discrimination claims. A key part of compliance is to know your obligations. That is why we have developed Mishcon Enable, to train your managers, HR and workforce to do the right thing, first time.

For more information please contact us via e-mail at or call +44 (0)207 440 7000 and ask to speak to Joanna Blackburn, Daniel Naftalin or Åsa Waring to discuss your needs.