Director at Crossland Employment Solicitors
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Redundancy booms as employment tribunals rocket

A surge in tribunal cases looks set to continue with official employment tribunal statistics for April to June 2020 already rocketing, along with record numbers of employees made redundant in the three months to September, according to the ONS.

17th Nov 2020
Director at Crossland Employment Solicitors
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With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) winding down at the end of October, replaced by the less favourable JSS, many could no longer keep those employed who would have otherwise been made redundant. As employers began to make these roles redundant, it sparked an increase in dismissals. 

It’s hoped that the new extension of the CJRS will put a plaster on the bleed of job losses until January 2021. The government has hinted that the scheme, at this point, will require further contributions from employers beyond employer’s NI and pension contributions. 

As a record number of redundancies are inevitable, there will also be a correlating higher number of claims brought where employees believe that their redundancies have not been handled fairly. We expect that the next set of statistics for July to September 2020 will reflect this. 

How long for a redundancy case to be heard?

The length of time it is now going to take to hear cases is a key issue for employees and accountancy firms alike. With exceptions like interim relief cases and discreet contractual cases, complex or multi-day tribunal claims are taking 18 months plus to be heard. 

The average wait time for a single unfair dismissal or discrimination claim is 38 weeks. Things are only liable to get worse as it is estimated that the backlog of claims will pass 500,000 by spring according to Citizens Advice. 

For some accountancy businesses and their clients, not having to deal with impending claims in the immediate future may be a benefit, but this is not the case for everyone. 

Tribunal response to hearing delays

A delay in claims being heard is obviously an issue for employees seeking resolution, but it also means that claims are hanging over companies. 

The issue is compounded when companies are trying to sell a business, or where turnover in staff and other redundancies mean witnesses are no longer available for accountancy businesses or employers for any hearings. This can be problematic when trying to successfully defend a claim.

The tribunal system has responded to these issues and is currently in the process of recruiting more fee paid employment judges, as well as implementing new tribunal rules in October 2020 to try and alleviate some of the pressure. These rule changes were designed with the intention of increasing capacity to hear claims and to get through the backlog. They include:

  • Listing hearings earlier 
  • Early conciliation period being six weeks immediately without needing to request an extension. 
  • Amending the rules to allow flexibility where minor errors are made to avoid satellite litigation delaying cases being heard
  • Allowing additional flexibility over virtual hearings
  • New appointed legal officers to undertake some work currently performed by judges such as considering whether a case has substantive defects or considering requests for extensions of time to submit a response.
  • Non employment judges being used to hear certain cases if criteria are met

Despite the delays in hearing claims, it is important for accountancy businesses and their clients to ensure that they continue to treat employees fairly and equally. Employers require a fair reason for dismissal when terminating an employee’s employment and must follow a fair process. 

There are no new exemptions to long-established employment laws despite coronavirus or furlough and tribunals highlighting the rights for interim relief cases. Aiming to speed the process back up again to meet the surge in demand, only serves to demonstrate this. 

Replies (10)

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Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
17th Nov 2020 13:43

As always with redundancy,

"Oh, 'tain't what you do; it's the way that you do it
'Tain't what you do; it's the way that you do it
'Tain't what you do; it's the way that you do it
That's what gets results"

Follow the process carefully and if in doubt phone a friend (or maybe not a friend but a solicitor)

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Replying to DJKL:
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By Paul Crowley
18th Nov 2020 00:00

MDTP abandoned his post, or so I heard

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Replying to DJKL:
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By johnjenkins
18th Nov 2020 12:00

From fun boy three to ub40 eh.

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Replying to johnjenkins:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
18th Nov 2020 16:50

I was more thinking its 1939 first incarnation.

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By IANTO
18th Nov 2020 09:21

I guess the introduction of the "Off Payroll" rules in April 2021 will also generate some claims. It wouldn't surprise me if those cases were given priority!

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By Ian McTernan CTA
18th Nov 2020 15:10

If the number of cases is approaching 500,000 then clearly there is something wrong with the employment system. Too many rights given to employees and too many lawyers eager to help make any claim, no matter how spurious. What percentage of firings does that figure represent?

I wonder what the success rate is on these claims?

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Replying to Ian McTernan CTA:
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By flightdeck
18th Nov 2020 15:49

Yes - that IS a crazy number isn't it ...can't all be due to employers not following due process or laws? The success rate would indeed be an interesting statistic. Does it cost £0 for the employee to decide to have a go?

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Replying to flightdeck:
Hallerud at Easter
By DJKL
18th Nov 2020 17:00

Wonder if a fair few are mere negotiating positions , claims lodged to get the other side talking which have subsequently been settled but nobody has bothered to advise the system.

Re employers not following due process , in my experience large numbers do not, they often try to bulldoze employees especially if they are not quite big enough to have their own in house team . Last year my daughter's boyfriend got the sharp end from one such decent sized but not big enough employer, I found him local employment solicitors (I know a lot of local solicitors so a couple of calls gets a recommendation to A N Other )and with a bit of fightback his ex employers decided to settle..

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Replying to DJKL:
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By IANTO
23rd Nov 2020 08:45

"his ex employers decided to settle"

yes, it's often cheaper for them to settle than the costs of defending a case. However, in relation to the "off payroll" regulations, there are political and financial implications and these might colour how any such claims resulting in those regulations might be handled.

For those of you who might have followed my old case, the compensation that was offered was less than half a year's potential annual increase in tax under IR35, so it was imperative that I obtained a legal judgement regarding my position. That judgement was that the engagement was one for services, i.e. not employed, and HMRC abandoned their proposed challenge to me under IR35.

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By AndrewV12
19th Nov 2020 10:28

I am not an expert on employment tribunals but I did listen to an episode of Adrian Goldberg Radio 5 investigates and one episode was about compensation for un-fair dismissal, the pay-outs were high, however the % of people that actually received their full or any pay-out was around 25%, Companies phoenixed, went in administration ......

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