Are Employment Tribunal fees reducing the number of claims?

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The overall number of Employment Tribunal (ET) claims received in July to September 2013 did not go down by much, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice.

They remained at roughly 40,000, in line with historical quarterly trends; but a closer look at the figures suggests that there has been a significant shift following the introduction of ET fees in July.

Between January and May 2013, the monthly average of claims submitted was around 17,000. This rose sharply in June to 25,000 going back down to 17,000 in July.

In August the number of claims reduced dramatically to 7,000. This could well be a result of the introduction of ET fees on 29 July 2013 with claimants ensuring where possible that their claim was lodged before that date.

Claims rose again in September to 14,000, suggesting that the number of claims lodged were affected only slightly by the new ET fees. However this could be largely due to the number of 'multiple' claims received.

'Single claims' involve one claimant against one employer whereas 'multiple claims' involve several claimants against the same employer (usually arising out of the same circumstances) and can be treated as one case. When claims are separated into 'single' and 'multiple' claims, single claims dropped dramatically from just over 7,300 in July to just over 1,100 in September.

Is this apparent drop in single claims here to stay? Only time will tell. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there has been a significant backlog of claims due to the rush of claims in July, and as ETs get to grips with the fee regime and new ET rules introduced at the same time.

Many of the claims lodged in August and September which applied for remission, or are awaiting payment of a fee, have not yet been included in these figures. The Ministry of Justice has also stressed that the figures are still provisional, so we await with interest the finalised figures for the year.

At the same time, the Government has announced that it is looking at ways of clamping down on employers who do not pay Employment Tribunal awards. This follows an independent report which shows that out of a sample of 1000 successful claimants, only half had received their full award and 35% had not received anything at all.