29 July 2013
The UK Government department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced a major reform of the Employment Tribunal rules. The new rules come into effect on July 29 2013.
Watson, Farley & Williams (WFW) Employment partner and Chair of the Law Society (England and Wales) Employment Law Committee Angharad Harris was a key member of the committee appointed to redraft the rules.
The aim of the new rules is to reduce the costs, time, and complexity of resolving workplace disputes for all parties involved. There are a number of important aspects that will affect employers:
> Smoothing the process to reduce time and costs: There was a clear need to improve efficiency in case handling, which will reduce costs for both parties. As part of this process, employment judges are now given increased power to deal with simple cases in a more straightforward and efficient way. This will benefit all parties, and the taxpayer.
> Simplifying the rules: With the new rules, individuals now know what to expect, and what is expected of them when pursuing a claim. The rules have been redrafted to use simpler language. They are now less than half the length of the old rules, making them more comprehensible both for unrepresented parties and SMEs which do not always have the benefit of legal representation.
> Bringing consistency and certainty: Employment judges can manage their cases more consistently, removing disparity between the regions. The new rules are intended to create uniformity and give certainty to all parties when preparing for a tribunal, which in turn should promote confidence in the system.
Parties are encouraged to resolve disputes earlier through mediation or ACAS conciliation, thereby reducing the number of claims that require determination by a tribunal.
WFW partner and member of the team that led the review, Angharad Harris said: “The new rules have been redrafted from scratch to use simpler, succinct language and are half the length of the old rules. They will make it easier for all parties to know what to expect and what is to be expected from them when pursuing a claim. Those employers who understand the changes and new culture at the outset will be best placed to benefit.”