Employment tribunals: amendments to tribunal rules to increase hearing capacity

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Employment tribunals: amendments to tribunal rules to increase hearing capacity

Published 6 octubre 2020

The Government intends to amend the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure to increase the capacity of employment tribunals to hear claims and to reduce bureaucracy.

THE FACTS

There is currently a significant backlog in the administration of Employment Tribunal claims leading to lengthy delays in claims being heard. This has been caused in part by the increase in claims since the abolition of Employment tribunal fees but also certainly because of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tribunal system. The Regulations that have been laid before Parliament to amend Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure will:

  • Give more flexibility in remote hearings;
  • Permit non-employment judges to sit in the Employment Tribunal;
  • Widen the scope for multiple claimants and respondents to use the same ET1 and ET3 forms;
  • Allow claim forms to be accepted despite an error in the Early Conciliation number;
  • Allow legal officers to make determinations currently reserved for judges;
  • Allow tribunals to list cases for hearing before the deadline for responding to the claim has passed;
  • Exclude claims dismissed on withdrawal from the public register of judgments; and
  • Direct that the Acas Early Conciliation provisions are changed to allow a standard six week early conciliation process in all cases, rather than a default one month with a possible extension of a further two weeks.

The measures for the employment tribunal rules, use of legal officers and cross-deployment of judges will come into force on 8 October 2020. The measures on Early Conciliation will come into force 1 December 2020.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR EMPLOYERS?

Recent reports suggest that the backlog of tribunal claims has now reached 45,000. The system is under severe strain. The Government is changing employment tribunal rules to allow more flexibility for remote hearings and also in the way claims are managed. It is intended that the reforms will assist tribunals in ensuring the speedier delivery of justice for businesses and workers. These changes are significant, and tribunal users will have to grapple with them. It can only be hoped that the proposed amendments will go some way to help to reduce the strain.

Authors

Zoë Wigan

Zoë Wigan

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6564

Ceri Fuller

Ceri Fuller

London - Walbrook

+44 (0)20 7894 6583

Hilary Larter

Hilary Larter

Leeds

+44 (0)113 251 4710

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