Employment Tribunals to be Streamlined

 The government have announced plans to streamline the process of employment tribunals making them easier for employers to understand and simpler to navigate. Jo Swinson, who is the minister for employment relations, has said that these new changes should improve the efficiency of employment tribunals and help eradicate weak claims.  Swinson wants to make it easier for disputes in the workplace to be resolved before they end up in front of a tribunal.

There were a staggering 186,300 employment tribunals cases held between April 2011 and March 2012. A rough estimate suggests that each case would have cost the employer in question nearly £4000 on average and the tax payer almost £2000.

Back in November of 2011, Mr Justice Underhill, the former president of the Employment Appeal Tribunal was asked by the government to undertake a major review of the rules that exist for employment tribunals.  He was invited to review and simplify these rules with the aim of cases being managed with more flexibility, efficiency, and consistency.

The government have recently responded by announcing that they will accept these new proposals. One of the new proposals includes the ability to stop the weakest workplace disputes from ever getting as far as a full tribunal hearing, saving everyone time and money.

The plans also include a 12-month pay cap for compensation awards given out for unfair dismissal. Guidance is to be created and developed regarding which issues should be considered when negotiating a financial settlement.  There will also be a new Code of Practice and increased use of template letters for use in settlement agreements.

The government have agreed that in some cases judges should accept help from the Employment Tribunal Presidents which will have the effect of consistency across hearings, leading to recognisable expectations for all parties involved.

There is also to be less paperwork involved when deciding to withdraw a claim, making it easier to dismiss a claim.  Finally, a new procedure is to be put in place for preliminary hearings. It will allow any prior reviews and discussions about the case to be combined, speeding up the processing of cases and meaning they can be disposed of more efficiently.  The new rules are expected to be in place by this summer.

Jo Swinson commented that the proposals  " … will help all parties understand what the process involves and what to expect. Employment Tribunals are costly in terms of time, money and stress for everyone and they should always be the last resort, not the first port of call.” Ultimately she stressed that her aim was to allow businesses to grow and thrive, while making sure that employers have the appropriate level of protection in place. 


Leave Comment

Comments for article #427

Go Back to Previous Page