Are you dealing with a case that is likely to be listed between June and December 2020? The Presidents of the Employment Tribunals of England and Wales and Scotland have updated their COVID-19 pandemic FAQs to include a “road map” for the listing and hearing of cases over the next six months.
The road map identifies three types of claims:
- short track (claims for unpaid money such as wages or holiday pay);
- standard track (e.g. claims for unfair dismissal); and
- open track (e.g. complex claims for discrimination and whistleblowing).
The road map outlines the Employment Tribunal’s (ET) vision for a phased return to normal business, but it is inevitably dependent on how the wider situation develops and on matters that are outside the ET’s control. Due to variable resources, different regions and ETs will go at different paces.
In June, ETs are unlikely to conduct any in-person hearings. They may hear remotely (by telephone and video link) some straightforward short track claims, but this is unlikely for standard and open track claims. Judges will receive training in remote hearing technology for the duration of the month.
During July and August, hearings for standard track claims will be remote, with those that lost their hearing date over the last few months taking priority. Some short track and preliminary hearings will be in-person and some cases may be a hybrid – partly remote and partly in-person. Simple open track claims may begin to be heard.
For September and October, ETs will hear more open track claims remotely. Hearings for all three types of claims will be a mixture of in-person, hybrid and entirely remote.
ETs anticipate that, in November and December, there will be a period of continued social distancing. The use of remote hearing technology is likely to continue for some time. The Presidents will review their approach at this stage in accordance with public health guidance.
Parties will always be able to give their views on whether their case is suitable for a remote or hybrid hearing, although this is ultimately a judicial decision.
Our recent newsletter article (Virtual tribunal hearings in the UK – is COVID-19 paving the way for a “new normal”?) looks at the practical implications of this sudden move to virtual hearings and when virtual hearings will not be appropriate.