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Making employment tribunals work for all

7 September 2015

The Law Society has published proposals to improve the employment tribunal structure - for employees, employers, and the administration of justice.

The employment tribunal (ET) system is not working as well as it could. The introduction of ET fees has created a barrier to genuine claimants.

Organisations, especially small businesses, can find the cost and time needed to respond to a claim damages their business. Due to advances in employment law, both legislative and procedural, the ET process has become increasingly legalistic; simple cases are not being dealt with as quickly and efficiently as they could be.

Most employment disputes need to be lodged at the ET, while some can only be heard in the county or High Court, and in some cases the claimant has a choice of forum. This can be confusing to unrepresented claimants as to where they should start their claim. Once a dispute enters the ET process the avenues for alternative dispute resolution (ADR) are unclear.

This discussion document suggests that the structure of the ET could be reformed so that cases are dealt with at a level proportionate to their complexity and value. All employment cases could be heard in a single jurisdiction, consisting of four levels. Each of the levels would have different procedural considerations.  To make the single jurisdiction easy for the public to use there would be a single point of entry. Cases would then be allocated to the appropriate level by a gatekeeper.  

The suggested reforms should create an employment law system that is accessible to all. We hope that they might also lead to a restructuring of the current ET fee regime.

If you have any comments or would like to be part of a discussion group looking at the proposals, please contact Nick Denys by 30 October 2015.

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