Latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice reveal a 71% drop in the number of Employment Tribunal claims compared with the same period last year.
Tellingly, single claims have dropped by one third in this quarter compared with the first quarter of this year. This is likely to be as a result of the introduction of ACAS Early Conciliation which has been mandatory since 6th May this year.
Early Conciliation requires parties to conciliate through ACAS and try to reach a resolution before a claim is lodged before the Employment Tribunal. By conciliating via ACAS, the limitation period for an employment claim is extended, and this may be causing claims to be lodged at a later date which in turn may have affected claim numbers lodged this quarter.
We are yet to see if the ACAS Early Conciliation Scheme is working and settling employment cases before they are lodged, and this could of course be a possibility.
It was good to see Chuka Umunna speak before the TUC Congress last week, recognising that the impact on employment tribunal claims has been significant by stating that a Labour government would abolish the current employment tribunal system, reform employment tribunals and put in place a new system which ensures all workers have proper access to justice.
It is not clear what Chuka envisaged this overhaul would look like but it is widely believed this would include the abolition of employment tribunal fees as well as introducing a quicker employment tribunal process.
Paula Chan is an Employment Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.
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