Increase of limits on tribunal compensatory awards
Increased compensation limits will apply to cases where the effective date of termination is on or after 6 April 2016. In particular, the maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal has increased to £78,962, and the maximum limit on a week’s pay £for the purposes of calculating the basic award has increased to £479. Note that the increase in the limit on a week’s pay also applies to the calculation of statutory redundancy payments.
Postponements for employment tribunal cases brought after 5 April 2016
As anyone who has had experience of the employment tribunal system is aware, there may be circumstances where one of the parties needs to request a postponement, perhaps because a witness is unavailable or there is a problem with the preparation of the case. As a result of a change to the legislation (the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2016), for claims issued on or after 6 April 2016 the number of postponements which can be granted will be restricted to two for each party, and postponements will not usually be granted where a request is made less than seven days prior to the hearing.
ET publishes quarterly statistics for October to December 2015
The Ministry of Justice has published its quarterly report for the Employment Tribunal for the period October to December 2015, setting out a summary of claims and performance levels across a range of operational areas. Key findings of the report include:
- On average an ET case with only one head of claim (“single claims”) took 29 weeks to go through the ET system from the date the claim was received to final judgment, a reduction of 24 weeks when compared with the same period last year
- On average a multiple claim case took 196 weeks, a reduction of 205 weeks when compared with last year
- The number of single claims received in October to December 2015 was 4,338, an increase of just 3 cases on the same period of 2014.
- The number of multiple claims received in October to December 2015 was 13,546, down by 7% on the same quarter last year
- It would seem that following the sharp drop in claims with the introduction of tribunal fees in July 2013 and the further drop in claims following the introduction of mandatory Acas early conciliation in May 2014, the number of claims received by the ET has stabilised although there will always be fluctuations in multiple claim cases
- Out of the 5,300 issue fees requested by the ET during this period, 66% were paid in full, 25% were granted either full or partial fee remission, and in the case of the remaining 8%, the claim was not pursued. This demonstrates an increase of 5% in the proportion awarded full or partial issue fee remission compared to the same period in the previous year, the highest since fees were introduced.
Financial Penalties introduced for non payment of Employment Tribunal awards
BIS research conducted in 2013 found that only 50% of all successful claimants received payment of their employment tribunal compensation without resorting to enforcement action. In response to these findings the Government has legislated to introduce penalties for employers who fail to pay ET awards as from 6 April 2016.
Under the new penalty scheme, unpaid awards and settlement amounts will accrue interest, and a penalty of 50% of the sum awarded or settlement amount (subject to a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5000) will be imposed where payment has not been made by the time the deadline for appealing the decision or award has expired without an appeal being made (i.e. 42 days from receipt of the ET’s written reasons for the decision) or in the case of a settlement payment, once the deadline for payment has expired. Where payment is made within 14 days of a penalty notice being issued, the penalty will be reduced by 50%. Penalty payments are paid to the Secretary of State, not the claimant.