Law Commission calls for reform of employment tribunals

Independent body recommends doubling the time limit to bring claims at employment tribunals and allowing employees to take employers to tribunals for making them work excessive hours.

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The Law Commission has called for greater powers to be given to employment tribunals including doubling the time limit for bringing all types of employment tribunal claims to six months and allowing tribunals to hear complaints by employees who they are working over agreed working time limits.

It also calls for improvements to the procedures for enforcing employment tribunals’ awards to ensure employees receive compensation in a timely fashion, the deployment of employment judges with experience of hearing discrimination claims to the county court to hear discrimination cases outside the employment field and the granting of powers to give damages in breach of contract claims of up to £100,000 (currently the limit is £25,000). It says the latter aims to reduce the need for employees to pursue claims in two different courts.

The Commission says the recommendations, if implemented, would enhance the protections that employees and workers receive from the employment tribunals against discriminatory and unlawful practices.

They point out that tribunals only have the jurisdiction that is given them by statute and say there are some unsatisfactory gaps in their powers, for instance, sometimes claimants have to bring two sets of proceedings because the tribunal cannot deal with all their claims.

Law Commissioner Nicholas Paines QC said: “Tribunals play an important role in resolving disputes and protecting the rights of workers, however the system is not working as well as it should.

“The reforms that we have recommended will bring real benefits for the court system and its users. The adjustments will improve employment tribunals’ ability to resolve disputes as effectively and justly as possible in one place.”



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