On 26 September 2018, the Law Commission launched a new consultation paper addressing proposed reforms to employment law hearing structures. The consultation paper is over 100 pages in length, but there are some key issues on which the Law Commission is seeking views including:
- An extension to current limitation periods in employment tribunals to six months or some other period;
- A removal or raising of the current £25,000 limit for breach of contract claims brought in employment tribunals;
- Jurisdiction for the Employment Appeal Tribunal to hear appeals from the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) on issues of union recognition;
- The possibility of employment judges sitting in the civil courts to hear non-employment discrimination claims, or creating a list of specialist “employment and equalities” judges.
The employment tribunal system has often been criticised as being unfit for purpose, both before and after the introduction of tribunal fees (and their subsequent abolition). It is, however, perhaps the first bullet point above that will make many employers sit up.
Whilst there is an argument that employees committed to making claims already bring their claims in time (and therefore any extension to current limitation periods will have little impact), it is not uncommon for there to be arguments that a claim is out of time. As a result, and coupled with the abolition of tribunal fees, any extension to current limitation periods is likely to further increase the number of tribunal claims.
A link to the Law Commission’s consultation paper is here.
It is worth noting, however, that any recommendations made by the Law Commission may not necessarily be implemented.