The results of the 2018 Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications (SETA) have just been released and show that both sums paid in settlements and awards made by Employment Tribunals have increased since the previous SETA in 2013.
The 2018 SETA is based on claims made between 3 October 2016 and 4 October 2017, using a random selection of single claims i.e. those made by a single claimant alleging a breach of one or more of their employment rights. The survey shows an increase in the more complex type of claims – up to 40% of the claims surveyed from 27% in 2013.
This is the first survey since the introduction of the ACAS early conciliation process in 2014. As this survey only looks at issued claims it does not tell us anything about the effectiveness of that process. However, it is clear that the vast majority of claimants (90%) and respondents (70%) stated that they did participate in conciliation prior to the claim being issued. The reasons given for failure to reach a settlement were either the respondent felt that they had no case to answer (27%) or that the sum offered was not accepted by the claimant (19%). Claimants were most likely to settle to avoid the stress of going to a full hearing (40%).
The survey also shows an increase in the use of representatives in the process for both claimants and respondents, although claimants were more likely to take advantage of free sources of information such as ACAS and the HM Courts and Tribunal Service website. The number of employers represented at the final hearing is up to 77% from 67% and, similarly, the number of represented claimants increased from 33% to 41%.
A settlement was reached in 58% of cases surveyed, which shows a slight increase from 54%. In a further 17% of cases, an offer of settlement was made but not accepted. Unsurprisingly, 90% of those settlements involved a financial payment. The majority of claimants (80%) and respondents (76%) reported that they had contact with an ACAS conciliation officer through the process, which is reflected in the fact that 40% of settlements were reached through ACAS.
The median settlement figure was £5.000 which has doubled from the median figure of £2,500 in 2013. The median award also increased from £3,000 to £5,000, although claimants are marginally more likely to be unsuccessful than successful at a full hearing.
The survey also monitored satisfaction with the Employment Tribunal system. 60% of claimants said that they were satisfied with the system, as did 64% of respondents. 57% of claimants and 85% of respondents believed that the Employment Tribunal gave each party a fair chance to make their case.