Official figures in 2013 recorded 190,000 new employment tribunal claims, but the actual number of claimants was approximately 110,000, according to a study by a Cardiff University academic, Johnathan Mace. Some claims were renewed every three months, resulting in the same person’s claim being counted four times in a year, Mace told the British Sociological Association conference.
When an employee submitted a claim against their employer for failure to comply with the Working Time Directive, such as incorrectly calculating holiday pay, the system required them to resubmit their claim every three months. If the claim took a year to be heard at a tribunal, it was recorded four times as a claim, rather than only once.
In 2013, Matt Hancock, the then Skills and Enterprise Minister relied on the inflated figures and introduced tribunal fees of up to £1,200 to reduce the number of tribunal claims.
Hancock said: “Unscrupulous workers caused havoc by inundating companies with unfounded claims of mistreatment, discrimination or worse. Like Japanese knotweeds, the soaring number of tribunal cases dragged more and more companies into its grip, squeezing the life and energy from Britain’s wealth creators.”
The policy ultimately led to a sharp reduction of tribunal claims. Nigel Mackay, a partner in employment law at Leigh Day said the drops in claims particularly affected people with “low value but entirely merited claims who were deterred by the fees”.
“They were the sort of people that would be deterred from making claims about not being paid the minimum wage, while from the employer side they were happy with people being deterred”, he said.
Mace believes that “The rise in employment tribunal claims 2002/03 to 2012/13 was driven at least in part by ‘ghost claims’ and not ‘Japanese knotweeds’ or vexatious claims.
“The statistics therefore do not validate some of the policy and political interpretations that have been based on them.
“The fall in employment tribunal claims following the introduction of employment tribunal fees may have been partially coincidental as a result of ‘ghost claim’ issue unwinding itself”, he said.
In 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government’s introduction of tribunal fees were unlawful and unconstitutional. People who previously paid fees were entitled to a refund. However, it was announced last year that the government was exploring ways to reintroduce tribunal fees.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said that no decision has been made to introduce new fees and dismissed Mace’s “ghost” claims. The spokesperson said its figures made it clear that resubmitted cases were included, but it was difficult to estimate how many new claims were resubmitted claims.
Watford Employment Tribunal announced that the dismissal of Mr Rawal was unfair. The court explained that “the predominating reasons behind the claimant’s dismissal were his union activities” and a “poor relationship” with his line manager Simon Madday.
However, the tribunal rejected Rawal’s claims of race discrimination under the Equality Act of 2010.
Royal Mail Dismissed Rawal on a Complaint:
Mr Rawal, a postal worker who was employed by Royal Mail as a delivery and collection driver since 2000 had a clean disciplinary record.
The tribunal also heard that Rawal had multiple positions during his employment at Royal Mail such as a health and safety officer, branch editor of the Communication Workers Union (CWU), and deputy safety area representative for the North Home Countries of the CWU branch.
Mr Rawal was filmed urinating by a member of the public and was later dismissed by Royal Mail for gross misconduct in November 2017.
Royal Mail received a customer complaint in September 2017 which including dashcam footage of Rawal allegedly relieving himself. “It was disturbing to see a person doing such act on the street, particularly someone belonging to a large, popular, and official company like Royal Mail,” the complaint issued in a statement.
Rawal claimed his union activities “brought him into conflict with his direct line manager, Maddy who did not like him questioning Royal Mail practices.”
Maddy told the tribunal that he referred Rawal’s case to another line manager, Vicky Dunkley.
Dunkley dismissal Rawal without notice and cited that the reason for dismissal was the urination in a public place. Rawal appealed against the decision but this was upheld.
Evidence Against Royal Mail In Tribunal Hearing:
The tribunal heard a recording of a discussion between Dunkley and Marshall who was a note taker in Rawal’s disciplinary hearing in which it said ““Just sack him. I can’t be bothered with it. It’s boring, all this stuff. Just tell him, look, he done it. We know he done it. Just sack him.”
Rawal also named at least 12 colleagues who had been caught urinating in public and in some cases in customer’s gardens had not been dismissed.
One postal worker admitted to the tribunal that “postmen urinate in public all the time”, while another employee said “there was not a single individual who had never caught short of the facilities and urinated in a public place while doing his job for a long time.”
Tribunal’s Decision & Reward:
Judge Skehan concluded that Rawal was unfairly dismissed and added “public urination is not an unusual matter that the [Royal Mail] must deal with”.
Rawal was awarded £37,720.98 was made up of a basic award of £8,068.50 for unfair dismissal and a compensatory award of £29,652.48.
The tribunal dismissed a separate claim for racial discrimination made by Rawal.