Regardless of which side of the claim you fall on, if you have an upcoming hearing you may be concerned about the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Below we set out a brief summary of recent guidance from the Employment Tribunal and what you can expect to happen to any pending hearings.

All content on this page has been updated and is correct as of 5th May 2020.

What has the Employment Tribunal said?

The Employment Tribunal has been busy releasing guidance on how the Employment Tribunals across England, Wales and Scotland will operate going forwards.

It has now been confirmed that from Monday 23 March 2020, all in-person hearings listed to begin on or before Friday 26 June 2020 will be converted to a virtual case management hearing (either telephone or video) on the first day allocated for the hearing. The remaining days listed for the hearing will be treated as cancelled. If you have a hearing that is listed to commence on or after 29 June 2020, it will remain listed but further directions will be provided in due course as necessary.

This guidance from the Employment Tribunal was reviewed on 29 April 2020 and remains in force in full. For hearings listed to commence on or after 29 June 2020, arrangements will be made to contact representatives to assess the appropriate method of conducting the hearing.

The next review is scheduled to take place on 29 May 2020.

What will happen at these case management hearings?

The hearings are intended to provide an opportunity for the parties and the Tribunal to discuss how best to proceed in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and the related Presidential Guidance issued on 18 March 2020 and amended on 24 March 2020. The guidance set out the possibilities available to parties, whilst recognising the limitations of the current system.

Issues that maybe discussed include whether video conferencing is appropriate (which is being strongly encouraged), whether correspondence and documents can be sent electronically to alleviate difficulties associated with remote working and whether applications for postponements, extensions or non-availability of witnesses for Covid-19 related reasons should be granted.

Practically speaking, what is going to happen next?

Prior to your hearing, you should expect to be contacted by the Tribunal with details of how to access the virtual case management hearing and notifying you of the scheduling amendments made. As anticipated, the Tribunals are already inundated with calls, but they are working as fast as possible to update people on what is happening. We understand that they are working in order of urgency with soonest hearings first so it may take some time for this information to reach you.

Unfortunately, all involved should be prepared to have hearings disrupted, shortened and cancelled at very short notice.

How can Bates Wells help?

We understand that this is a stressful and uncertain time for both employers and employees. Our team is committed to being available to help with any concerns relating to upcoming hearings or any other employment matters you may be facing at this difficult time.

Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Employment team if you require any assistance or have any questions relating to this update.