At the end of 2016 the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a consultation, Reforming the Employment Tribunal system, available to download here.
The Employment Tribunal in Scotland (ET) is currently managed by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. Under the Scotland Act 2016 responsibility for a number of reserved Tribunals, including the ET and the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT), are to be devolved to Scotland.
While the laws providing for substantive employment rights will remain reserved to the UK Parliament, responsibility for the management, operation, and administration of these Tribunals in Scotland will pass to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service. This will include powers over setting fees for the Tribunal.
As the timeframe for the transfer of these powers has not yet been agreed between the UK and Scottish Governments, CAS responded to the consultation.
- CAS would like to see the powers over the management, operation, and administration of the ET and EAT transferred to Scotland before the implementation of any reforms in England and Wales. This is to ensure that Scotland does not inherit a system that may not be the best system for Scotland.
- CAS would like to see sufficient funding provided by the UK Government to allow Scotland to: (i) maintain the levels of service delivery afforded under the current Tribunal model in Scotland; (ii) undertake a complementary but independent review of the system in Scotland; and (iii) implement any identified areas of reforms to the Scottish system.
- Employment Tribunal fees continue to act as a barrier to accessing justice. The UK Government should remove Tribunal fees in England and Wales, as the Scottish Government has undertaken to do in Scotland.**
- Improving access to local specialist employment services, and improving the enforceability of Tribunal awards, are priorities for non-legal users of the ET in Scotland. These areas should be reviewed and reformed to help improve the fairness and effectiveness of the wider employment landscape.
Our full consultation response from January 2017 is available to download below.
** CAS intends to respond separately to the Ministry of Justice’s Review of the introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunals, which is open for consultation until 14 March 2017, and is available to download here.