In 2020, the two Employment Tribunal jurisdictions issued a joint “road map” for dealing with the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic. Another road map was produced in 2021, and the Employment Tribunals have recently published a further map on 31 March 2022, detailing how various challenges will be dealt with in 2022/23.
The Presidents of the Employment Tribunals recognise the concerns facing the HMCTS which include long waiting times in certain parts of the UK, inadequate court rooms / buildings and a lack of accurate data being collected.
However, they consider positives to be the efficiency brought from legal officers recruited in 2021/22 and the appointment of 150 new fee paid Employment Judges.
The Employment Tribunals are now in the thick of the HMCTS reform modernisation process.
This involves converting longstanding paper-based processes to digital format, in order to produce a better and more efficient system.
Of particular importance will be:
By no means a surprise, telephone or video will continue to be the default option for hearings. That being said, what is worth noting is that the Presidents of the Employment Tribunals want to ‘take a few steps back’ from the reliance on remote hearings, with 90% of hearings still being by video in some parts of the country. Although this is less costly and less disruptive to the lives of those participating in Tribunals, this road map expresses a wish to bring that percentage down.
Going forward, hearings will be via video by default (subject to judicial decision and local resources) aside from the following: