Working Theory

by Michael Reed


I do employment law for the Free Representation Unit.


michael at


How not to correct mistakes

12 June 2014

It appears that the MoJ employment tribunal statistics that looked like they might be wrong were indeed wrong. (Although the headline figure: single claims down 58% remains unchanged.)

We know this because the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion spotted that a new spreadsheet had been uploaded and kindly alerted twitter.

As Daniel Barnett pointed out, this is absolutely the wrong way to make a correction of this sort.

It’s worrying that there was a problem in the statistics in the first place. In the first place, they are not unimportant bits of information at any time. The government should know and be able to tell us accurately what is happening in the justice system.

But, in relation to the employment tribunals, this is the worst possible time to make this sort of error. For the fairly obvious reason that we’re all looking to see the impact of fees – there is an ongoing judicial review for goodness sake.

The Ministry of Justice should do two things.

First, they should fess up to the error, rather than just uploading the revised figures and otherwise pretending it didn’t happen.

Second, they should give some explanation of how it happened. This might be as simple as ‘Someone goofed when entering the data and unfortunately we didn’t pick up on it.’

Failing to make any acknowledgment or give an explanation is only likely to create doubt about the rest of the statistics. How, in the absence of any explanation of what went wrong, can we be confident that there aren’t other mistakes that might be harder for us to spot?

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