by Laurie Anstis on April 17, 2012
In preparation for a talk I am giving next week I have been looking at the figures for the number of tribunal claims brought over the years.
There are many different ways of looking at employment tribunal statistics, but the most consistently available figures are for the number of applications lodged with the tribunal. For the purposes of these figures, a claim that an individual’s dismissal was both discriminatory and unfair would count as one claim, and fifty individuals all bringing equal pay claims arising out of the same situation would count as fifty claims.
Here are the number of applications made from 1988 – 2011, including the trend line generated by Excel:
It is difficult to know what, if any, conclusions can be drawn from this. There are many ups and downs in the figures, with notable peaks in 1995, 2000, 2007 and 2009. These are almost certainly down to massive multiple claims running chronologically from part-time worker pension claims to public sector equal pay claims and then airline working time claims. These huge multiple claims, brought by thousands of people at a time, would need to be stripped out of the statistics to show any reliable underlying trend. Even though there are spikes in those particular years, the multiple claims would have been brought in years either side of the spikes as well, so would distort figures for the neighbouring years too.
It is hard to strip these out of the claims so as to ascertain the rate of like-for-like increase. As at 2003 there were over 100,000 outstanding part time pension cases, and the subsequent equal pay and airline working time cases are likely to have been of that order.
Given the increase in the jurisdiction of the employment tribunals over these years it would be surprising if there was not an underlying increase in claims, but exactly how much is difficult to tell. The earliest year for which I have been able to find figures for the number of unfair dismissal claims brought is 1998/99, when 37,034 claims were registered, compared to 47,900 claims in 2010/11 – though there have been considerable ups and downs in the figures in between those two dates.
Any corrections to or observations on these figures are welcome in the comments.
[Notes: Each year stretches from 1 April to 31 March, so the figures for 2000 are for 1 April 2000 – 31 March 2001. The source material for these figures is House of Commons Research Paper 03/87, the Employment Tribunal Service annual reports for 2003-10 and the Tribunals Service statistics for 2010/11. The figures for 2011 are projected full year figures based on a mean of the three quarters for which statistics are available.]