HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has found that claimants involved in employment tribunals are now expected to wait nearly a year for their hearings.
The HMCTS also revealed that the number of claims in the pipeline increased to 51,614 by the middle of March 2021 and that the number of employment claims accepted in the last quarter of 2020 was up by 37% on quarter two and 66% on the first quarter.
The number of claims is also expected to rise even further, when the furlough scheme concludes at the end of April, which may trigger a surge in redundancies.
President David Greene from the Law Society said: “It is truly worrying to see a backlog of more than 51,000 employment tribunal claims, reflecting backlogs in other courts.
“Since employment tribunal fees were abolished in 2017, the number of claims has increased substantially, without the same increase in the resources needed to be able to deliver justice promptly.”
“[The Society] will continue to encourage the government to improve the running of employment tribunals and make sure they are properly resourced in order to tackle the expanding backlog of cases”.
“Lengthy waiting times for cases to be heard will also lead to delays in the emergence of the case law needed as employers and employees face up to a post-covid-19 pandemic working environment.”
Chris Brazier, employment partner, B P Collins comments:
“Waiting for an employment tribunal hearing can be an extremely anxious time for those involved, which can be made even worse when you factor in a considerable delay. To put this in to context, some of the cases we are advising on are seeing delays of up to 2 years and that is before factoring in the delays caused by the pandemic.
“Given the likelihood of further delays, effective case management is extremely important. We have substantial experience of dealing with claims with the aim of securing the right outcome for our clients, whether that be through effective early engagement to secure settlement or identifying strengths and weaknesses early so that our clients are clear on the most appropriate way forward for their litigation”.