As businesses furiously prepare for the end of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS / Furlough) at the end of September whilst managing the ongoing financial and practical implications of the ongoing pandemic, it is expected that there will be a surge in employment related claims.
Many businesses have already faced accusations related to the pandemic in some way and at worst already had claims issued against them. Business analysts have predicted that employment-related litigation, especially unfair dismissal due to redundancy will rise when the furlough scheme ends on 30 September as employers are forced to make staffing cuts they had been putting off due to the financial support provided for under the CJRS.
Rising claims in the last few years are said to have been exacerbated by the move to remote working due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic as well as more claims expected as businesses who sought pandemic-related business interruption insurance but have not received a pay-out have no option but to take measures impacting employees. Whilst the Government has launched a backed insurance scheme to give a boost to the events industry (Live Events Reinsurance Scheme) there is no counterpart for other industry sectors who continue to suffer the effects of Covid19.
The Tribunal system as part of the roadmap to recovery has put in measures to try and reduce the backlog of claims. Despite the measures, there is an expectation that there will be a surge in unfair dismissal, breach of contract, unlawful deductions from wages and redundancy due to the adverse economic conditions that will see many businesses continue to down-size, undergo restructures or even close down. As staff are required to return to work, there are also likely to be complaints and subsequent claims relating to health and safety and ensuring a Covid safe workplace with individuals having their own thresholds as to what is considered safe.
Despite the Tribunal taking operational measures to try and manage the expected increased levels of disputes, they are expected to take 18-24 months to resolve from when dismissal decisions were originally taken and this is a factor for consideration when opting to embark on the litigation process.
Is there an employment claim?
There may be grounds for an employment tribunal claim if an employee has been treated unlawfully, unfairly or wrongfully.
Examples claims are:
- unfair, wrongful and constructive dismissal
- sex, race, disability, age, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief and sexual orientation discrimination
- breach of contract.
Usually, claims must be issued by an employment tribunal within 3 months of the act being complained of (3 months less one day) although there are certain exceptions. This can be extended further by taking part in the ACAS early conciliation process which is a precursor to the litigation process.
The litigation process
An employment tribunal claim is issued by submitting a claim form called an ET1, which is obtained from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service online.
If accepted by the Tribunal, a copy of the claim from is sent to the Respondent who then has 28 days from receipt of the ET1 to defend the complaint(s). The Respondent is required to complete a Response Form (ET3) to contest the claim.
Directions for the management of the case or a preliminary hearing listing if the case has complex issues will then be sent to the parties. The length of the final hearing will be dependent on the issues and the number of witnesses in the case.
Cases will be heard by an employment judge unless there are claims for discrimination or whistleblowing, in which case there will be a panel one member with a union background and the other member human resources background and an employment judge.
A successful tribunal claim can result in a financial award being made in favour of the Claimant (dependant on the complaint).
Contact our Furlough Litigation Lawyers in Enfield, Finchley, North London and Hertfordshire
Our furlough litigation employment solicitors provide strategic, commercially balanced yet empathetic advice whilst endeavouring to provide a solution that works for you, allowing you to focus on the future. Call us today on 0808 164 8443 or complete our enquiry form and we will be in touch promptly to discuss your employment matter further.