Employment Law

A long road to walk for employment disputes in the wake of Covid-19?

We have seen reports of major delays in both the civil and criminal courts over recent months, but now are we set to see the same problems in the employment tribunal system?

There was already a backlog pre-covid with an estimated 44,000+ cases at the end of the summer.

Overall, the picture according to the HM Courts and Tribunal service data is that outstanding cases have increased by more than 25%.

ACAS have reported that calls about redundancy have increased by 169% in June and July compared with the same months in 2019.

ARAG have seen an increase in calls for redundancy advice via its legal hotline by 336% between March and August, compared to 2019.

The picture looks grim for those who may find themselves in a redundancy situation. Redundancy pay disputes, discrimination claims, unfair dismissal, to mention but a few, will give rise to more tribunal requests in a system that is already under pressure.

Some cases are already being listed for 2022 with disputes therefore not being resolved for long periods of time.

This will affect businesses as well as the aggrieved employees, with access to justice being delayed for all parties concerned.

Covid-19 is likely to produce a host of claims regarding furlough, whistleblowing and in relation to safe working environments with the potential return to the office.

The ETs are listing as many cases as possible for video hearings, which means that some cases are being listed for 2022.

Judicial mediation is an alternative option to an ET which requires less preparation and is arguably more suited to video technology.

So what can be done? The first port of call is to try and prevent claims from happening by ensuring employers deal with grievances internally by negotiating with employees. This will not only save money but more importantly time so that everyone can get on with their lives.

Employees now have to consider that their potential ‘day in court’ will actually be a ‘day at home’.

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