Following consultation, the government has published its proposals to tighten the rules on employment tribunal postponement procedures. There are three main changes, applying to all tribunal hearings:

  • Each party will be allowed just two postponements of hearings. After that, further postponements will only be allowed in "exceptional circumstances" – to be decided by the tribunal judge. There will be exemptions, such as where the postponement is designed to facilitate a settlement. 
  • There will be a deadline for requests for postponements – seven days before the hearing. Again, after this, applications for postponement would only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
  • Tribunals will have to consider making costs or preparation time orders where exceptional circumstances apply and a postponement is granted less than seven days before the hearing.

Advice and guidance will be made available to tribunal users to explain when a postponement application may be appropriate and the potential implications of making repeated or late notice applications.