Time to overhaul Employment Tribunals!

The Law Society has announced this week that in order to ensure unlawful workplace practices do not go without punishment, radical changes are needed to the employment tribunal structure.

A review of the fee system, which was brought in more than two years ago, has been initiated by the government and the Law Society has called for a complete overhaul of the system in order to benefit both employers and employees.

The Society has commented that the costs of the current system have discouraged people from bringing cases and businesses from defending wrongful accusations. The number of disputes proceedings to the tribunal has collapsed by over 60% since the introduction of fees.

A system where claims are dealt with more flexibly, on the basis of financial stake and complexities involved, has been suggested. The purported financial savings of the proposed overhaul could essentially enable the Ministry of Justice to remove the fees currently required to submit a claim.

The suggested system could be broken into four levels so that all cases would be dealt with in the more appropriate way – simpler cases (unpaid wages etc.) could be dealt with on paper and only the most complicated and complex cases would be handled by an experienced judge. Technologies such as electronic transfer of documents and video links would be embraced to ensure more efficient outcomes and increase awareness of different types of alternative dispute resolution “exit points” would be available throughout the claim process.

Whilst this is encouraging, at the moment we would point out that is only the Law Society’s view which is not binding on the government. The eventual decision will likely depend on the outcome of the government’s review of the current system, which will be of huge interest to all involved in employment law.

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