Honey, they’ve shrunk the Employment Tribunal backlog!

So, according to the Minister’s answers to a series of Parliamentary Questions tabled by Angela Rayner, the shiny new Employment Tribunal case management system that HMCTS introduced – presumably at some expense – in March 2021 is unable to generate data on ‘average age at disposal’ (that is, how long it takes the ET system to process a case, on average). The old ET case management system used to generate such data for single claims/cases and multiple claimant cases, and until March 2021 the figures were routinely included in the quarterly tribunal statistics published by HMCTS. And every now and then I would produce a chart

However, the figures have been absent from the quarterly tribunal statistics since March 2021 and, in his answers of 28 February and 13 March to the PQs tabled by Angela Rayner, justice minister Mike Freer has confirmed that this is because such ‘average age at disposal’ data is not available from the new case management system. Which, given what we know about the growth in the backlog of ET cases since March 2021, may be less a bug than a feature, from the Minister’s point of view. 

Another bug – or feature – in the new case management system is that it seems unable to generate reliable data on that backlog of ET cases. The following table shows the backlog (single cases + multiple claimant cases) at the end of each month since January 2022, as reported in each of the six monthly data sets of HMCTS management information published since October 2022.

In each of the four data sets published between 10 November 2022 and 13 February 2023, the figure for the backlog (i.e. outstanding caseload) at the end of each month since January 2022 was almost invariably revised (slightly) upwards, with the data set published on 13 February indicating that the backlog was more than 50,000 at the end of every month from September to December 2022. However, in the data set published on 9 March, every figure for the backlog has been revised (slightly) downwards, with the result that the backlog did not exceed 50,000 until January 2023.

Time will tell whether this bug – or feature – in the new ET case management system will keep the backlog of ET cases below 50,000 indefinitely, but in the meantime my chart of the backlog now looks like this:

About wonkypolicywonk

Wonkypolicywonk is a policy minion, assigned wonky at birth, who has been lucky enough to work for two of the very best MPs in the House of Commons, and for Maternity Action, Working Families, Citizens Advice, the National Audit Office, the Law Society, and Amnesty International UK.
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