Part-time work tops coronavirus tribunal complaints

Complaints relating to part-time working regulations have risen by 767% since the pandemic, topping the list of tribunal causes that have seen the steepest increase over the past 18 months.

Age discrimination was second on the ranking, with a rise of 530%, followed by failure to inform and consult when undertaking a TUPE transfer (up by 84%).

Offering a potential explanation for the increase in these particular cases Helen Giles, director of people and culture at Revitalise Respite Holidays, said that COVID had created conditions many employers would never have faced before.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “A lot of businesses would not have had in-house HR people to advise or known where to source advice externally, so made errors of judgement, sometimes amounting to discriminatory practice, in things like redundancy selection or handling of TUPEs.”

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Giles left her prior position as executive director of people and governance at St Mungo’s in July this year, and from personal experience she added that age discrimination is widespread.

“Having recently been an older job seeker myself I would definitely say that age discrimination is rife and, along with disability discrimination, pretty much overlooked in terms of a spotlight being thrown in the same way as it has (quite rightly) on discrimination in relation to other protected characteristics,” she said.

Working time directive complaints were the most common cause for tribunal of the past decade, racking up over 450 thousand cases.

Unauthorised deductions were the second most popular (over 290,000) claim of the past 10 years, followed by unfair dismissal (more than 240,000).

Graham Griffiths, interim director at the Living Wage Foundation, said the figures paint a disturbing picture concerning the state of insecure work in the UK.

Speaking to HR magazine he said: "Recent Living Wage Foundation research found that over half of the UK’s shift workers receive less than a week’s notice of their shifts, while 12% receive less than a day’s notice. These volatile working patterns are simply not sustainable and severely impact the pay, health and wellbeing of our workers and their families.

“If we are to do right by our workers and rebuild a better and more equal society for all after this pandemic, we must ensure that those in insecure, low-paid work are included in this new economy."

In 2020/21 there were more than 117,000 employment tribunals, an increase of 13% since 2010/11.