For employers, the recently published 2017 Annual Report of the Jersey Employment and Discrimination Tribunal makes interesting reading.
Last year, there was a 20% increase in the number of claims issued. When it came to breach of contract claims, such as unpaid wages or holiday pay, those making a claim (or ‘claimants’) were successful on 25 out of 29 occasions. They were also more successful than those on the other side of the dispute (the ‘respondent’) at Tribunal final hearings.
That said, it was not all one-way traffic. When adding interim hearings into the equation, the Tribunal found in favour of the respondent in 63% of claims. Also, there was a 33% increase in the number of employers bringing counterclaims for breach of contract against former employees. Part of this may be down to the Tribunal introducing a new response form in September 2017, which made it easier for employers to engage. Of the six counterclaims which went to final hearing last year, four were successful.
In the annual report, the Tribunal’s chairman also made some interesting comments about representation. When issuing their initial form, nearly a quarter of those making a claim (the ‘claimant’) said they were professionally or legally represented, compared to over 50% of those on the other side of the dispute (the ‘respondent’). However, if the case went to a final hearing, only 8% of respondents were legally represented compared to 20% of claimants. Also, when a respondent fails to file a response form following a claim, the judgment invariably goes in the favour of the claimant.
Clearly, it is imperative that employers engage with the Tribunal and the better prepared they are, the more chance they have of getting a satisfactory outcome. When it came to discrimination claims, the increase mainly related to sex discrimination and related characteristics such as sexual orientation, gender reassignment, and pregnancy and maternity. The introduction of ‘age’ as a protected characteristic in September 2016 also contributed to this increase and this September, ‘disability’ is added.
The Tribunal is receiving more and more claims, especially employment claims, which rose sharply in 2017.
If you ever receive a response form from the Tribunal, do not panic and certainly do not ignore it. There is an established process and Law at Work are here to support you through it. Just give us a call.