Lockdown | Employment tribunals increased by 18% in this period

Employment tribunals increased by 18% in this period

The Government has announced that the number of employment tribunals involving individuals increased by almost 20% between April and June 2020.

According to employment lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, the number of cases is likely to continue rising over the next 12 months.

The Government’s data, which was published earlier this month, unearthed that employment tribunals involving individuals in the first three months of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period increased by 18%, compared to the same period last year, to 10,000.

Glenn Hayes, Employment Partner at Irwin Mitchell, noted that the data represented a stark increase, but was expected: “These figures mark a significant year on year rise, but they don’t surprise me. I think the numbers will go up further over the next 12 months as the current furlough scheme comes to an end.

“These are difficult times for businesses but some in their haste to save costs are making basic errors in their redundancy programmes such as not going through a fair procedure even in genuine cases. Others are getting rid of older staff which is directly discriminatory.”

The Ministry of Justice’s website noted that the increase is most likely due to the rise in unemployment and changes to working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It added that the caseloads outstanding stand at 37,000. This is said to be greater than the high levels seen in 2009/10.

The legal expert added: “While it might seem like the ‘wild west’ to those in the middle of this, COVID-19 hasn’t changed employment law overnight and not following correct redundancy procedures or selecting people because of their age is more likely to result in employment claims which will distract them from the important job of keeping their businesses going.

“Companies should be aware that they are at risk of tribunal claims if they attempt to use redundancies as a cloak for breaching employment rights,” he concluded.

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