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The Impact of Enterprise Size on Employment Tribunal Incidence and Outcomes: Evidence from Britain

[George Saridakis, Loughborough University], Sukanya Sengupta, Paul Edwards and [David Storey, University of Warwick]
British Journal of Industrial Relations, 46, 3, 469-99


Employment Tribunals are the formal means of adjudicating disputes over individual employment rights in the UK. This article hypothesizes that, because small firms favour informality over formality, they are more likely (i) to experience employee claims than large firms; (ii) to be subject to different types of claims; (iii) to settle prior to reaching a formal Tribunal; and (iv) to lose at a Tribunal. Data from the 2003 Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications are used to examine these hypotheses. They are generally supported, although in relation to the third there was no size effect. Furthermore, our results show that firms that have procedures and follow them are more likely to win than those firms that do not have any procedures. Recognizing the benefits of informality, while also ensuring that small firms follow proper standards of procedural fairness, is a policy dilemma that has yet to be resolved.