Employment tribunal backlog growing

An influx of employment tribunal claims and a backlog of cases, which reached record highs in February, is unlikely to have peaked, according to legal advice and protection provider, ARAG.

Data released by HM Courts and Tribunal Service yesterday showed both a significant increase in the number of claims accepted by the tribunal in the last three months of 2020, whilst the backlog of outstanding claims continues to grow.

HMCTS weekly management information during coronavirus shows over 51,000 outstanding employment claims, up 45% on 'pre-COVID baseline' figures at the end of February.

Head of claims at ARAG, Chris Millward, said the situation is intolerable for businesses facing a claim and for those employees who may have been unfairly treated, as it is clear many will have to wait significant periods of time, potentially years, before getting any sort of resolution to their dispute.

"An increase in employment tribunal claims was expected, given the high level of redundancies we saw towards the end of 2020, but it's clear from weekly management information released yesterday that the tribunal system does not have the capacity to cope.

“The steps government proposed to address the backlog last year, increasing use of virtual hearings and trying to deploy underutilised and non-specialist judges, clearly haven't worked. There is no doubt that stronger action is urgently needed to bring the backlog under control.

“We warned that the backlog was approaching 50,000 cases, back in September, but it has continued to grow steadily, ever since. The end to the furlough scheme is likely to bring another spike in redundancies and yet more tribunal claims, so it is hard to see the situation improving anytime soon.”

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