With public services seeking to catch up on waiting lists, it seemed timely to provide an update regarding the ongoing backlog of employment tribunal cases.
A statistical data set published on 13 February 2023 by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service reported that there are more than 50,000 live cases awaiting a hearing or decision. This figure is a 7 percent increase from the December 2021 figure of 47,041.
For context, it was reported in 2019 that the number of outstanding employment tribunal cases had reached 23,700, which at the time was the highest level recorded since the abolition of tribunal fees in 2017.
It is clear that the number of cases issued in the employment tribunal continues to increase rapidly and consistently. However, with current wait times of between 12 and 24 months from claims being filed, processed and then heard, it is evident that the tribunals do not have the structural capabilities to support the existing caseload, let alone any further increase to these numbers.
On a positive note, the Employment Lawyers Association’s (ELA) ‘Bringing down the backlog’ report showed that in 2022-23, 74 percent of cases were resolved without the need for a hearing at the Employment Tribunal, either through Acas early conciliation or resolution between the parties. There are also steps organisations can take within their operations to assist in reducing the backlog:
•Increase attempts by the HR department to resolve disputes within the early conciliation window. This can be achieved by working closely with occupational health and trade unions.
• Increase the ‘conflict confidence’ and capability among line managers in dealing with employment issues as they arise. The ELA also stated in their report that this lack of conflict confidence and capability among line managers acts as one of the key barriers to early and successful resolutions.
• Increase line management training to instil confidence in dealing with workplace conflict.
• Update handbooks with clear policies and procedures that are followed and applied correctly and consistently.
If you have any questions or queries on this topic or any other matter, do please get in touch. Our London Employment Law team provides assistance with review of existing policies and procedures or training programmes for line managers and are happy to discuss these at any time.