Changes ahead for Employment Tribunals
A series of regulation changes introduced in mid-October have the potential to make a real contribution in easing the backlog of tribunal cases, which continue to rise following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. These include:
- Short-track cases can now be listed for a final hearing before the deadline for the employer to respond to the claim – so long as the hearing is scheduled for at least 14 days later.
- The standard early conciliation period has been extended from one calendar month to six weeks from December 1 to encourage early settlement.
- An increase in the flexibility in the way in which hearings are conducted, including giving judges the choice to operate entirely remotely.
- The removal of the practical strain of remote hearings, including allowing the inspection of witness statements outside of the hearing.
- Non-employment judges and ‘legal officers’ can now sit as employment judges.
The changes, which have been introduced by the government’s Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, came due to the recognition that tribunals are in desperate need of continued support.