The Government has announced that it proposes to develop a fast track system for simple monetary claims in Employment Tribunals. The new system will cover only five jurisdictions: unlawful deductions from wages claims; breach of contract claims; redundancy pay claims; holiday pay claims and National Minimum Wage claims. It is probable that Employment Judges (formerly known as Chairmen) will sit alone to determine these claims, without the help of the 2 lay members who would normally sit on the Tribunal panel.

The proposal comes as part of the Government’s reform of the dispute resolution and Tribunal system in accordance with recommendations of the Gibbons Review and the subsequent Government consultation “Resolving Disputes in the Workplace” (issued in March 2007). Over 70% of the respondents to the consultation supported the introduction of a new, swift approach to dealing with straightforward claims, where cases could be determined by an Employment Judge, with the consent of the parties, on the basis of written papers submitted to the Tribunal. However, despite the level of support for such a fast track procedure we have concerns that the Government has underestimated the complexity of these claims. Furthermore, as claims of various types, such as redundancy pay and unfair dismissals, are often brought together, it is likely that the separation of various claims may cause difficulties.

New rate for National Minimum Wage

The Government has also announced the new rates of the National Minimum Wage to apply from 1st October 2008. For workers aged 22 and over, the rate will rise from the current £5.52 per hour to £5.73; for workers aged 18 to 21 it will rise from £4.60 to £4.77; and for workers aged 16 and 17 it will rise from £3.40 to £3.53.