The Ministry of Justice has published details of employment tribunal awards made for unfair dismissal and discrimination at work in the year to March 2016.
The MoJ´s report for 2015/16 make interesting reading. For the first year since employment tribunal fees were introduced, the number of applications for a hearing increased year-on-year from 61,308 to 83,031. Although the vast majority of disputes were resolved via the ACAS process, 744 hearings resulted in employment tribunal awards for unfair dismissal and discrimination at work.
The highest sum awarded following an employment tribunal hearing was £1,762,130 in a sex discrimination at work case. High employment tribunal awards were also made in several disability discrimination at work claims, although the highest employment tribunal awards for race discrimination at work and age discrimination at work were considerably lower than the previous year.
Unlike most unfair dismissal claims, discrimination claims are not subject to a statutory cap and can include awards for injury to feelings. That said, the highest award for an unfair dismissal claim was £470,865 which will have involved an unfair dismissal claim where the statutory cap did not apply. The average award for unfair dismissal was £13,851, up by about £1,500 on the previous year.
Other trends to be identified in the MoJ´s report identify a higher percentage of claimants being represented by solicitors (84% in 2015/16 compared with 75% in 2014/15) and a reduced number of costs awards (658 in 2015/16 compared to 870 in 2014/15). However this is the second year in a row in which more awards were made to claimants than employers, reversing a long historical trend.
With respect to employment tribunal fees, Unison´s challenge to the introduction of fees is due to be heard in the Supreme Court on 7th and 8th December. The outcome of this case – plus the outcome of a post-implementation judicial review of the fees – will likely impact the level of fees that can be charged in the future. Prior to the introduction of fees in 2012/13, ACAS dealt with 191,541 applications for an employment tribunal hearing.