How can employers mitigate against employment tribunal delays?
Employment tribunal proceedings can be extremely slow to reach a final hearing due to a number of factors. There is a backlog of cases within the tribunal system which means that even when a case is lodged, it can take a long time for it to be heard. Waiting times have significantly increased after the pandemic.
The tribunal system is extremely complex. A number of stages must be completed before a case can reach a final hearing. This includes the pre-hearing review, exchange of evidence, and preparing the submissions. All of these steps take time and contribute towards the delay of the final hearing. The system also allows each party to appeal the decision of the tribunal. So, even if a decision is reached, there is still the possibility of an appeal, which can further add delay.
What can employers do?
Employers facing employment tribunal claims can take a number of steps to mitigate against the effects of delays. Employers should always ensure they are aware of the relevant deadlines and timelines for their case and that filing documents and responding to requests for information have been handled in a timely manner.
Employers should also make sure that they have sufficient resources available to deal with the claim, whether this is legal advice or staff to prepare the documentation and evidence needed.
A proactive approach is needed to avoid delay. Requested information should be dealt with in a timely manner, and regular contact with the tribunal will help to address any issues that might occur. Proactive employers should have contingency plans in place to deal with any unexpected delays, which will help to minimise any financial losses associated with the process.
Employment tribunal costs warning letter
According to the Employment Tribunals Service, the average waiting time (in weeks) from receipt to the first hearing is currently 49 weeks on average. This figure is for the period January to March 2021, which are the most recent statistics available.
With nearly a year to wait, and a tribunal process that is fairly complex, it is understandable that this will not only be stressful and frustrating, but any additional delays will make this process even more onerous. For claimants thinking of recovering costs associated with taking a dispute to an employment tribunal, it is possible to send an employment tribunal costs warning letter, such as https://www.employmentlawfriend.co.uk/downloads/employment-tribunal-costs-warning-letter. The letter will state why the case is subject to a costs order. Costs can be reclaimed for the hiring of legal counsel, travel, and preparing your claim (for example, photocopying, research material, postage).
An employment lawyer can send out a letter on your behalf and also advise the best course of action. If your employer has a chance of winning, then you may be responsible for paying their legal fees as well as your own. Legal fees can run into tens of thousands, so it is always advisable to seek professional legal advice.