The Employment Tribunal national user group has published the minutes of its most recent summit. These minutes make for very insightful reading, and we feel they highlight the necessity for businesses to look for new and innovative means to approaching disputes in the workplace – such as Collaborative Employment Law (CEL) service, of which we are a founding member!
What were the main discussion points in the meeting?
The drastic increase in claims – we recently reported as much in our September Workplace Law article. There was a 165% increase in single claims from April to June 2018 than was recorded in the same period last year, just before the outlawing of the fees regime.
Shortage of employment judges - the ongoing struggle to recruit employment judges has resulted in some regions providing final hearing dates that are 12-18 months after the tribunal has received the ET1. Croydon “was listing into 2020”, and there are equally alarming reports that Manchester has been listing its 10 day hearings into 2021. The President of the group reported that 54 full-time equivalent judges would be appointed in the New Year, but doubts have been cast over whether this will do much to alleviate the workload that tribunals are facing.
Refunds – the meeting reported that there had been 14,500 applications for refunds of employment tribunal fees, with 12,400 refunds having been made. A total figure of £10.6m has so far been refunded.
Easier access to dispute resolution
Claims against employers are set to increase further, and the number of judges is so dangerously low that final hearing dates are hard to come by. Employers of all sizes are facing the prospect of more claims being brought against them, and a protracted lengthy period in which to resolve them fully and finally.
We understand the administrative and financial burdens that are placed upon employers in dealing with protracted disputes which can lead to tribunal claims, and always offer pragmatically-minded solutions. However, sometimes a lengthy and costly process cannot be avoided. This is where CEL can offer a way out for all parties, in a manner that is quicker, cheaper and more flexible than the tribunal process.
Collaborative Employment Law
Having forged close ties with other law firms in the area, the Employment department at Thomson Snell & Passmore has helped to launch CEL, a mediation service provided by a group of employment lawyers who are committed to working together to resolve employment and workplace disputes.
CEL lawyers have to have undergone internal workplace mediation training and must have an ACAS certificate of Internal Workplace Mediation or equivalent before they are able to offer CEL.
CEL lawyers from both sides engage in non-adversarial, practical and without-prejudice discussions in order to come to an agreement for their clients. Although the CEL process is well-defined and structured, the scheme allows for creative and flexible solutions which a court would never impose.
We have launched this scheme because of the costly, unpredictable, and protracted nature of the tribunal process, and would like to offer this service to you as a more pragmatic approach to your workplace disputes.
For more information on this service, please download our brochure, or contact a member of our Employment team.