Thursday 10 December 2020 / 12:43 PM Andy McDonald / Employment

Rise in employment tribunal backlog leaving workers unprotected

Labour has called on the Government to address the Employment Tribunal backlog as the latest statistics published today show a marked rise in total outstanding cases on 2010 figures and the previous quarter.

 

The Employment Tribunal quarterly figures show that the total number of outstanding cases by the end of September 2020 continued on a dramatic upward trend, rising to 473,142, which represents an increase of over 11.5 per cent on the previous year and of almost 40 per cent on 2009/10 figures from the same quarter.

 

As a result of the rising backlog of cases, the average number of weeks taken for single cases to be processed rose to 39 weeks, up from 34 weeks in the same period of 2018/19. If this rate were to continue, then the total backlog of cases would rise to 835,514 by the end of 2024.

 

The closure of courts due to the impact of Coronavirus is in part responsible for the rise in the number of outstanding cases, but employment lawyers state that this has just piled ‘a crisis onto a crisis’, with the backlog rising since 2015 after a reduction caused by the introduction of employment tribunal fees that the Supreme Court declared illegal in 2017.

 

   

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Employment Rights and Protections Secretary, commenting on the latest Employment Tribunal statistics said:

 

“The government’s failure to get a grip on the Employment Tribunal backlog has left working people waiting years for justice and undermined their ability to uphold their rights at work, leaving them unprotected at a time when they most need protections.

 

“With so many outstanding cases, many workers might not bother to make claims and will end up denied the pay, annual leave and other rights they are entitled to.

 

“The government must put forward a real plan to relieve this backlog without watering down rights to ensure that workers are not at the mercy of bad employers. Without rapid action, rights in the workplace will not be worth the paper they’re written on.”