These cases resulted in 7,144 complaints against businesses on a variety of different employment grievances. Interestingly this is nearly 30% more than the previous year.
In total, judgments in these cases resulted in nearly £1.5 million being paid out to claimants. The highest claim awarded resulted in the claimant being granted nearly £100,000 in compensation. It is also notable that several of these cases were linked to the same employer.
The statistics show that, of the complaints heard:
- more than a third were withdrawn by the complainant;
- around a third were remedied through a conciliation process between the parties with the assistance of the Labour Relations Agency;
- around 11% were eventually settled between the parties themselves; and
- around 11% were dismissed throughout the course of the proceedings.
From this it is clear that the vast majority (around 90%) of cases do not make it as far as the judgment stage. Therefore, the total cost to businesses would actually have been much higher than the £1.5 million headline figure. That is without even considering the wasted time and stress for those involved.
In addition to the above, the Freedom of Information request revealed that, in the same year, 97 cases were heard by the Fair Employment Tribunal. This Tribunal hears complaints relating to discrimination by employers based on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion. This figure represents a 12% decrease when compared to the previous year when there were 111 cases. However, the number of cases settled between parties more than doubled – from 8 to 17. More than £25,000 in compensation was paid out to claimants by employers as a result of these cases.
As the above indicates, employees and workers in Northern Ireland are becoming increasingly aware of their rights and are willing to bring employers to the Tribunal if they feel that these rights have been infringed. Therefore, it is in the employer’s best interests to ensure that policies and procedures are up to date and followed consistently. This is particularly important where the dismissal of an employee is concerned.
As an employer, if you are uncertain as to the policies and procedures that you should implement, I recommend seeking legal advice. Seeking help from a lawyer at an early stage can save money and stress in the long run by avoiding a tribunal case.