03 March 2017 #Employment
On 23rd February 2017, the Government provided a response to the consultation paper, ‘Reforming the Employment Tribunal System’ published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Justice. The consultation focused on simplifying and speeding up the resolution of employment disputes, which if approved, will dramatically change the employment tribunal process as we know it today.
A key proposal arising from the consultation concerned the digitisation of the whole claims process. Whilst acknowledging a new IT system may have its inherent problems, the Government confirmed commitment to this idea. If this proposal does come into fruition, users will be able to start a claim, track progress and participate in resolution methods online. The Government recognised that further research is necessary as to how an online system will be accessible to all, particularly disabled or non-English speaking users.
The response also discussed the practicalities around the use of virtual hearings (via telephone, online or videoconferencing). The Government recognised that for more complex cases, virtual hearings may be inappropriate.
One further issue explored in the response was whether to re-allocate a broad range of tasks from employment judges to case workers. The response is vague on this point but did clarify that whatever the outcome, case workers would need to undergo some sort of legal training and would have to be supervised by judges.
We will continue to keep you updated on these proposals but whatever the outcome, it is hoped that any steps made will remove or reduce existing delays attached to the current tribunal system.