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


  • George Saridakis
  • Sukanya Sen-Gupta
  • Paul Edwards
  • David J. Storey


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. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd/London School of Economics 2008.

Suggested Citation

  • George Saridakis & Sukanya Sen-Gupta & Paul Edwards & David J. Storey, 2008. "The Impact of Enterprise Size on Employment Tribunal Incidence and Outcomes: Evidence from Britain," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 46(3), pages 469-499, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:brjirl:v:46:y:2008:i:3:p:469-499

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Knight, K G & Latreille, Paul L, 2000. "How Far Do Cases Go? Resolution in Industrial Tribunal Applications," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 68(6), pages 723-744, December.
    2. K.G. Knight & Paul Latreille, 2000. "Discipline, Dismissals and Complaints to Employment Tribunals," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 533-555, December.
    3. K. G. Knight & Paul L. Latreille, 2001. "Gender Effects in British Unfair Dismissal Tribunal Hearings," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(4), pages 816-834, July.
    4. Linda Dickens & Moira Hart & Michael Jones & Brian Weekes, 1984. "The British Experience under a Statute Prohibiting Unfair Dismissal," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 37(4), pages 497-514, July.
    5. Kim Hoque, 2003. "All in All, it's Just Another Plaque on the Wall: The Incidence and Impact of the Investors in People Standard," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(2), pages 543-571, March.
    6. James Arrowsmith & Mark W. Gilman & Paul Edwards & Monder Ram, 2003. "The Impact of the National Minimum Wage in Small Firms," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 41(3), pages 435-456, September.
    7. Hart, Peter E & Oulton, Nicholas, 1996. "Growth and Size of Firms," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(438), pages 1242-1252, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. André van Stel & David Storey & Chantal Hartog, 2010. "Institutions and Entrepreneurship: The Role of The Rule of Law," Scales Research Reports H201003, EIM Business and Policy Research.
    2. Bernard Walker & R.T. Hamilton, 2015. "What influences the progression of employment rights disputes?," Industrial Relations Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 117-133, March.
    3. Paul Latreille, 2017. "The economics of employment tribunals," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 331-331, January.
    4. Lai, Yanqing & Saridakis, George & Blackburn, Robert & Johnstone, Stewart, 2016. "Are the HR responses of small firms different from large firms in times of recession?," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 113-131.
    5. repec:enr:rpaper:0009 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Drinkwater, Stephen & Latreille, Paul L. & Knight, Ben, 2008. "When It's (Mostly) the Taking Part that Counts: The Post-Application Consequences of Employment Tribunal Claims," IZA Discussion Papers 3629, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Andy Charlwood & Anna Pollert, 2014. "Informal Employment Dispute Resolution among Low-Wage Non-Union Workers: Does Managerially Initiated Workplace Voice Enhance Equity and Efficiency?," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 52(2), pages 359-386, June.

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