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Employment tribunal backlog reaches new high

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

According to a question answered by the Ministry of Justice, the employment tribunal waiting time from receipt of the ET1 form to a first hearing is currently 335 days for single claims (made by a single employee/worker), and 388 days for multiple claims (made by multiple employees/workers, eg large equal pay claims).

Since employment tribunal fees were scrapped in 2017 there has been a significant increase in claims issued to the tribunal and there is a concern that cases arising from Covid-19 related issues such as furlough leave, redundancies and changes to terms of employment will cause another rapid influx of new claims being made. There may also be an increase in claims with regards to compulsory vaccinations in the care industry.

The Tribunals Judiciary has published a roadmap to recovery in the employment tribunals, in response to the backlog of more than 51,000 claims. It involves more use of telephone and video hearings, with video and telephone the default for many types of hearings. In-person hearings will remain the default for final hearings of discrimination and whistleblowing cases.

The ongoing HM Courts and Tribunals reform programme to improve technology in the courts will reach the employment tribunal in the coming financial year, ushering in changes to document management and listing, and moving from a paper-based to an electronic system of working.

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