Thu 20 Sep 2018

Employment Tribunal awards statistics - awards down despite surge in claims

The Ministry of Justice has published its annual employment tribunal award statistics for 2017/2018.  

Although it has been more than a year since employment tribunal fees were declared unlawful (on 26 July 2017), the figures cover the period for 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, so the requirement to pay fees was still influencing the level of applications made over the first third of the year.  Despite that, and not too surprisingly, the number of applications made has increased exponentially.  More surprising perhaps, is the fact that the overall number of awards made by Employment Tribunals has decreased despite so many more claims being made. 

In the year 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 a total of 109,685 employment tribunal applications were made.  This compares to 88,461 the previous year and 83,015 in 2015/16.  While this is considerably higher than the low of 61,308 in 2014/15 following the introduction of fees there is still a long way to go to get to the figure of 191,541 in 2012/13, when there were no Tribunal fees in place.  However, given that the number of claims raised in the most recent reported quarter (April to June 2018) is up 165% on the same time last year, it seems likely that there will be another significant increase in the number of claims raised when the annual figures are reported next year.   

The detail of the statistics makes for interesting reading - not only are there fewer awards made than in previous years, the highest award made is lower in every type of claim reported on.  The highest sum awarded in an employment tribunal claim in the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 was £415,227 and was awarded in an unfair dismissal claim (bear in mind that the usual statutory cap of £83,682 for unfair dismissal claims does not apply in certain circumstances).  The statistics also show that awards were only made in 536 unfair dismissal claims, a decrease compared to the 587 awards made the previous year despite the significant increase in the number of claims made overall.  Whilst the very high awards usually grab the headlines, the average award for an unfair dismissal claim was £15,007, with the median award being only £8,015. 

The highest award in a discrimination claim was £242,130 which was awarded for disability discrimination. There was also an overall decrease in the number of awards made in discrimination claims from 158 last year to 136 in 2017/18. 

The number of costs awards made by employment tribunals in 2017/18 has remained static at 479.  However, the tide has turned when it comes to who the awards were made to.  In recent years the number of awards made to claimants (employees) has outnumbered those made to respondents (employers), but, in 2017/18, 310 cost awards were made to respondents and only 169 to claimants.    

The maximum costs award made was £20,000 compared to £146,404 last year and £102,967 in 2015/16.  The median  costs award significantly increased though from £925 last year to £2,409 in 2017/18.   

Maximum, Median and Average Awards for Unfair Dismissal and Discrimination 2017/18


Maximum Award

Median Award

Average Award

Unfair Dismissal




Race Discrimination




Sex Discrimination       




Disability Discrimination




Religious Discrimination           




Age Discrimination




Sexual Orientation Discrimination





The full report is available here.

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