Employment Law: Employment Tribunals Procedure And Practice

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Employment Law: Employment Tribunals Procedure And Practice

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Employment Law: Employment Tribunals Procedure And Practice

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Discuss about the Employment law writing up about a tribunal visit‏?

Employment tribunal hearings are one of the most interesting and crucial hearings in the present situation of our country. Though we are considered to be a developed country and advanced in all forms and walks of life certain incidents and events still shock us and send cold chills through our backbone. I will recount my experience of a visit to the employment tribunal where a recent case regarding the violation of the employment laws of the country was scheduled to be heard before a single bench.
This case is an example of such a shocking incidence that has forced us to think that are we still living in the past or the present? The case was regarding the alleged violations of various provisions of the Equality Act, 2010 which is the governing legislation for employment in the country. The said case was between a Mr. M. Naveed and his current employer Spearmint Rhino (an incorporated company) where it was alleged by Mr. Naveed that he had been subjected to racial discrimination in his office on a continuous basis by his colleagues and by his seniors. The relevant legislation as quoted by the parties is the Equality Act, 2010 and the provisions thereunder relating to racial discrimination in the workplace.
In the courthouse, Spearmint Rhino was represented by a Ms. De Reya who was their solicitor of choice. On the other hand, Mr. Naveed did not have anyone to represent him in the court of law. That being said, Ms. De started her representations on behalf of the respondents in the case (Spearmint Rhino). In her submissions on behalf of the respondents, she disputed and denied all the allegations made by Mr. Naveed on racial discrimination. They emphasized on the fact that their company is a well-reputed business concern and neither the company nor any other employee of the company resort to any means or form of racial discrimination. Overall, they totally condemn any form of racial discrimination within and outside the organization done by any person whatsoever. Their solicitor further said that the officers of the company and the people in the management of the company are reputed and respectable people of the society and they have worked hard and have a considerable amount of contribution to the society at large. Ms. De Reya also cited the names of various charitable organizations involved in the upliftment of the weaker sections of the society and organizations engaged in the development of the people who are of different origins.
Coming back to the case in hand, Ms. De Reya claimed that the accusations made by Mr. Naveed are baseless and are out of context. She presented a total different picture of the situation. Her main point argument was that the company had only three laptops and at that point of time was unable to provide Mr. Naveed a spare laptop to complete the job assigned to him. Ms. De Reya contested that this incident was taken by Mr. Naveed in an offensive manner which led him to think of it as racial discrimination. She further submitted that this was a misunderstanding on part of Mr. Naveed and has nothing to do with the mentality and outlook of his colleagues.
In support of her arguments, Ms. De Reya presented a witness in the court and written statements from four people who work with Mr. Naveed in his office. All the evidence pointed in one direction; that it was a misunderstanding of Mr. Naveed and nothing in the nature of racial discrimination happened. The sworn statements and the version of the witness were unquestioned because Mr. Naveed did not have any legal representation in the court.
The day in court ended with the respondents making their representations and submissions of the case. The contentions and the submissions from the claimant’s side are yet to be heard and evaluated by the judge. The judge advised Mr. Naveed to get a council for proper representation of his case. He also gave Mr. Naveed the option of presenting his own case, but reminded him that if he represents his case he will not be entitled to a retrial at a later date on account of not having a solicitor to represent his case in a proper manner in the court of law. The judge ended hearing of the case by giving a next date for hearing the same case and said that it will hear Mr. Naveed’s side of the story.
Employment rules and regulations have undergone drastic changes over the years with new governments bringing out certain amendments to existing legislations and introducing new ones. Reforms are being planned from early 2012 (Urwin, Latreille and Karuk, 2012). The government aimed their proposals to simplify the employment laws and to bring about an ease to the business concerns and the employees. The major reform came in the form of “The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rule of Procedure) Regulations, 2013” (The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rule of Procedure) Regulations, 2013, 2015). Later a few more changes were made in 2014 (Carse, 2015).
We will take a look at the changes brought about by the new regulations and the amendments because of that (Cushway and Hallsworth, 2012). Though the regulations received a few criticisms of not being user-friendly, it brought a few new changes in the existing areas (Cabrelli, 2010). Some of the main changes are as follows:
Rejection of Claims by the Tribunal: The Tribunal was given the power to reject a claim, if it lacked vital information or if the claim is not accompanied by the requisite amount of fees. Claims could also be rejected if it is not maintainable (Employmenttribunals.gov.uk, 2015).
Rejection of Responses by Employers: In cases where the employer misses their deadline to respond to a certain claim; their responses, if any, will be rejected outright by the tribunal and the hearing will be done ex parte but default judgments are not to be passed by the court. The only option for the employers here will be to apply for “Reconsideration” and will be compelled to explain why the rejection of the Tribunal was wrong (Employmenttribunals.gov.uk, 2015).
Sift Stage: This is the most important aspect of a hearing. This implementation is done by an Employment Judge after he receives all the necessary documents related to the case and includes the Response of the employer (Sargeant and Lewis, 2012). Based on these documents the Judge comes to a conclusion about what is to be done in a particular case. Claims are scrutinized at every level of their genuineness and maintainability.
Preliminary Hearings: Case Management Discussions and Pre-hearing Reviews have been dispensed with and “Preliminary Hearings” are introduced in their place. All the concerned and connected matters are to be decided in the preliminary hearings.
Amendments regarding Applications: The pre-requisite of the applicants to explain the fairness of the sought order passed have been eliminated, and they are no longer required to file such an explanation document with the tribunal.
Reconsiderations: Reconsiderations can be filed either by the Tribunal on its own or by any of the parties to the case. A party to the case shall file reconsideration within fourteen days of passing of the order by the Tribunal with the required explanations (Rothstein et al.).
Thus, it can be noted from the above points that the new regulations brought about some changes from the procedural aspect. The Tribunal has been given some new powers that it can exercise to reduce the complexity of trying cases. 
Some more changes in 2014
New rules were proposed in 2014 and came to effect in the month of April. The new rules were designed to lessen the burden of the Employment Tribunal. The new rules stipulated that claims against employers cannot be directly filed with the Tribunal (Gov.uk, 2015). All the necessary documents of the case along with the application are to be filed with Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) (Acas.org.uk, 2015) first. ACAS was entrusted with the job of providing relevant information, advice, training and other related services to the employers and the employees and help them resolve the disputes without involving the employment court (Gov.uk, 2015).
Previously, ACAS was only informed about a particular case only after the Tribunal proceedings were issued. But at present ACAS will be doing all the necessary dealings before the case reaches the court (Ross, 2010). It is the duty of the ACAS to co-ordinate between the concerned employee and the employer and tries to resolve the matter and come to a conclusion (Nolte and Ghosheh, 2010). If the matter is not resolved and settled, ACAS issues a certificate in this regard after completing the ongoing conciliation. After this certificate has been issued, the claim can be lodged with the Tribunal (McColgan, 2005).
The introduced mechanism of dispute resolution has voluntary nature regarding the whole process and thus, does not have any legal effect. But the cases are to be reported compulsorily to ACAS prior to filing with the Tribunal. This gives a scope to the parties to resolve the problems among themselves with the help of a professional conciliation body. This proves to be beneficial to both the employer and the employee in most of the cases. This also gives a buffer to the Tribunal before trying cases which in turn reduces the ever-growing burden of cases on the Tribunal.
Acas.org.uk, (2015). Home | Acas. [online] Available at: https://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1461 [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].
Cabrelli, D. (2010). Employment law. Harlow, England: Pearson Longman.
Carse, A. (2015). Employment Tribunals Procedure and Practice. Industrial Law Journal.
Cushway, B. and Hallsworth, I. (2012). The employer’s handbook 2012-13. London: Kogan Page.
Employmenttribunals.gov.uk, (2015). HM Courts & Tribunals Service. [online] Available at: https://www.employmenttribunals.gov.uk/ [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].
Gov.uk, (2015). Solve a workplace dispute – GOV.UK. [online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/solve-workplace-dispute [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].
McColgan, A. (2005). Discrimination law. Oxford [England]: Hart Pub.
Nolte, C. and Ghosheh, N. (2010). Working conditions laws report 2010. Geneva: Ilo.
Ross, J. (2010). Employment law. Dundee: Dundee University Press.
Rothstein, M., Craver, C., Schroeder, E. and Shoben, E. (n.d.). Employment law.
Sargeant, M. and Lewis, D. (2012). Employment law. Harlow: Pearson Education.
The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rule of Procedure) Regulations, 2013. (2015). [online] Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/1237/pdfs/uksi_20131237_en.pdf [Accessed 26 Jul. 2015].
Urwin, P., Latreille, P. and Karuk, V. (2012). Quantitative evidence in the evaluation of ADR: the case of judicial mediation in UK Employment Tribunals. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 23(3), pp.567-589.

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