Fundamental reforms to the employment tribunal system have recently been proposed by the Government. Amongst the proposals made in the document “Resolving Workplace Disputes: A Consultation” are the following:
- To require all claims to be submitted to ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in the first instance, rather than the Tribunals Service. This would allow ACAS a specified period (up to one month) to offer pre-claim conciliation in all cases.
- To extend the jurisdictions where judges can sit alone in employment tribunals to include unfair dismissal, and to remove the general requirement for tripartite panels in the Employment Appeals Tribunal, allowing more efficient use of lay member resource.
- To introduce fee charging mechanisms in employment tribunals, for example where claimants lodge claims (and respondents choose to counter-claim), and/or for parties in claims that proceed to full hearing in an attempt to discourage vexatious litigants from issuing claims with no merit.
- To increase the qualification period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years, which would result in some 3,700-4,700 fewer claims being made to tribunals each year.