The first quarter’s statistics for ACAS Early Conciliation have been released. In April, the scheme was still voluntary and ACAS processed around 1,000 applications a week. Once the process became compulsory in May and June this rose to an average of 1,600 applications. ACAS say that this mirrored the expectation for demand on the service. Interestingly, about 3% of these applications came from the employer. This is lower than I expected given employers could use this to gain a tactical advantage with the time limits.
As for results, over 16% of the applications resulted in a successful settlement and a further 19% of Claimants said that they did not intend to take the matter further. Since conciliation is now compulsory for the most common complaints to a Tribunal, it also serves as an indicator and forecast for the next quarter at the Tribunal. If there are 1,600 applications a week to ACAS and if we assume that 26% of those will not turn into a Tribunal, (making an allowance for those that settle and about 50% of those that say they will not go further as this is not binding) we can see that there will be around 1,100 applications a week to the Tribunal going forward. Some of those in May and June may already be in the Tribunal system but it gives us a useful indication of what we can expect the Tribunal statistics to be for July-Sept 2014.
Also released this week were the Tribunal statistics for the same quarter (April/May/June 2014) which showed a further reduction in the number of claims being brought. These were again down over 70% from the same quarter last year and single claims were a third down on the quarter before which may of course be in part due to the introduction of ACAS early conciliation and the successes referred to above. The number of claims presented was 3,792 for this last quarter which is slightly higher than my prediction for the next quarter’s results. Appeals to the EAT were also down 25%.
On 8th September 2014, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Chuka Umunna delivered a speech to the TUC which indicated that should the Labour Party be successful at the next election, they would undertake major reforms of the Employment Tribunal System. He said that the introduction of fees had curtailed individuals access to justice and was unfair and unsustainable. Labour would abolish the current system, reform the tribunals and put in place a new system but no details were given. We do of course await the appeal against the outcome of the judicial review by Unison into the Tribunal fees which is expected later this year. As always watch this space.