According to official figures released by the Advisory, conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), the number of Claimants making claims against former employers had increased to nearly 40,000 from 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019.
As ACAS tries to settle disputes without the need for litigation, not all of these cases will turn into Employment Tribunal claims. ACAS also stated that they had received an increase of over 20% of notifications over the same period.
This has however caused a backlog with cases coming through the Tribunals. Some employment lawyers have raised concerns about the time it takes for a claim to be given a final hearing with preliminary hearings taking around three to four months and final hearings taken up to a year or more to be listed.
Bearing in mind Tribunal fees to lodge claims have been abolished following a Supreme Court decision in 2017, claims do not look like they are likely to reduce in the near future.
Changes to employment contracts or terms and conditions can be done in one of two ways:-
This occurred in the case of Mrs Egbayelo -v- Ocado Central Services Limited.
The Claimant started her employment in 2010 and there was a provision in her contract that allowed the employer to make reasonable changes to the employment contract. In 2011, the employer entered into a recognition agreement with the trade union USDAW which introduced a variation to contracts of employment (including the Claimant) and including terms such as pay, hours and holidays and that such changes would now be dealt with by collective agreements.
In 2017, the employer and USDAW agreed changes to holiday arrangements which reduced holiday entitlement but gave a pay rise. The Claimant put in writing that she objected to the change in holidays but would accept the pay rise.
The Claimant brought a claim to the ET requesting a declaration regarding her employment stating that the new holiday entitlements were not part of her contract.
Both the Employment Tribunal and the subsequent tribunal agreed that the changes were incorporated into the contract and that by accepting the pay rise she had also accepted the changes to the holiday entitlement and that she was not allowed to ‘cherry pick’ the changes she liked and those she didn’t.
This highlights that it is always preferable to agree to changes between employers and employees as this then negates problems further down the line.
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