The Government recently announced that Employment Tribunal reform was on its agenda.
Employment Tribunal Reform: The Proposals
The Government’s proposals for reform of the Employment Tribunal system are as follows:-
- Digitisation of the claims procedure: It is proposed that the following be done electronically online:-
– Issuing of the ET1 claim form
– Lodging of the ET3 response form
– Tracking of the claim
– Providing information and evidence
– Communication between parties and the Employment Tribunal
– Participation in negotiations relating to resolution
– Where possible, simpler cases may be determined online
– Instead of hearings taking place in a Tribunal room, where possible they would be conducted by telephone conference, by video conference, and online
- Delegation of some decisions to case workers: Some matters that were previously determined by judges may now be delegated to case workers. This includes case management decisions. Nevertheless, such decisions would only be determined by case workers who were sufficiently legally qualified. There would also be appropriate judicial supervision in place. Moreover, where a party is unhappy with the decision made by the case worker, then they would be entitled to have that decision reviewed by a judge.
- Tribunal panels: Complex cases are currently heard by a judge and 2 lay members. However, it is now proposed that the Senior President of Tribunals will determine who will hear a claim. They would do this be tailoring the makeup of the panel to the needs of the case. The aim is to make the use of lay members more proportionate.
Employment Tribunal Reform: Next Steps
Currently, there is no timetable for these reforms, and they will be subject to further consultation.
The last round of Employment Tribunal reform back in 2013 was a disaster. Not only did it make the Employment Tribunal service less efficient, with insufficient staff to handle matters, but also included the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees, which priced many out of the opportunity of seeking justice. It is to be hoped that this time around, this will not simply be a further exercise in mere cost cutting, but will genuinely improve the efficiency of the Employment Tribunal process.