Employment tribunal claims taking nearly a year to reach hearings
Employment Barrister Daniel Barnett, on the ball as ever, has spotted from a written question on Hansard, that the average time for an employment tribunal claim to make its way from the initial form (ET1) to an actual hearing is, currently, 335 days. Add on to that the time it takes a claimant to actually submit the claim form (which can be up to 6 months from the incident in dispute) and that’s the best part of a year and a half.
Employment tribunal paperwork is due much more quickly.
So, a claim brought now, January 2022, might not be heard until July 2023. By that time key witnesses may have moved on, memories will have dulled, and quite possibly the claimant’s enthusiasm will have waned too. Tribunals ask for the ‘bundle’ to be completed within weeks of the employer’s response to the ET1 though, so it isn’t a case of forgetting all about it for a year and a half.
The bundle is a herculean task and a destroyer of time, but it helps the employer (who usually has responsibility for putting it together) asses the strengths of their case, and at least the long delays before a hearing provide plenty of time to negotiate a settlement if there appears to be chinks in the employer’s armour.
Employment tribunal delays present settlement opportunities
myHRdept have managed a number of tribunal cases for our clients, more in the last 18 months than ever before, but we’ve still settled a great deal more than we’ve taken to hearing. Employers won’t always want to settle, but it’s often economically sensible to do so, particularly as costs orders in tribunals are extremely rare.
What to do if you receive a claim
The initial notification of a claim will set out the key dates that employers must comply with, and these will include the first response form deadline. Response forms take time to complete properly and normally entail a full investigation of the facts, so sitting on the paperwork until the week before the deadline is not a good idea! For employers with representatives already, the whole correspondence should be forwarded to them as soon as possible.
Is it a good idea to be represented in tribunal proceedings?
myHRdept will task a case manager who will generally see the case through to the end. In some circumstances it may be appropriate for us to appoint a barrister for the hearings, but this is not always necessary, particularly for straight forward unfair dismissal cases, or other cases where there is a simple dispute as to matters of fact.
Being represented is certainly a good idea, the process can be complicated, the paperwork can be extensive and the bundle can take a great deal of time to put together. There are also many nuances that experience can reveal. Whilst the old ‘industrial tribunals’ started life as a people’s court, the reality today is rather different.
Tribunal HR Support from myHRdept
If you need help with employment law compliance, or just want a knowledgeable advisor on hand, myHRdept’s HR support services are ideal. Now in our 20th year, we include in our outsourced HR packages a bank of support hours which could be used for anything HR-related, including employment tribunals, and our staff includes a former practicing employment lawyer. For more about the team behind myHRdept, see our meet the team page.
If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR or employment law needs, why not contact myHRdept? Call us on 01628 820515, email us at email@example.com to discuss your requirements, or contact us via our website and we’ll call you back.