Are Employment Tribunals approaching breaking point?

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According to recent statistics, the number of claims received by employment tribunals in 2018/19 has risen to 35,430 – with the average waiting time between the employment tribunal receiving a claim and progressing it to a final hearing reaching 8 months. Inevitably, this has caused significant cost and disruption for businesses facing these claims, and for employees bringing claims and seeking a quick remedy.

At certain pressure points in the tribunal system, there are anecdotal examples of cases being lodged now but not being listed until mid-2020 – with some parties not receiving a written judgment until more than 3 months following the hearing.   Significant delays in scheduling hearings makes the recollection and giving of evidence more difficult as memories fade and witnesses change employers and move on.

However, to help address the growing waiting time and backlog of cases, the Judicial Appointments Commission has launched a recruitment drive to hire an additional 54-salaried employment tribunal judges. 27 having been appointed this month alone to address the lack of resources.  It’s hoped this investment in judicial resources will assist as a temporary measure until substantive procedural solutions are introduced.

With the waiting time for an Employment Tribunal now reaching 8 months, employers should be aware of steps they can take to avoid going to a tribunal in the first place. If you are experiencing issues with employees, our Employment team can help,  please contact David Sheppard if you would like advice.