Further to yesterday’s bulletin, The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 have now been laid before Parliament.
The statutory instrument amends existing legislation. It is, as amending SIs often are, complex. These are the additional points which I did not mention in yesterday’s bulletin as they did not appear in the government’s press release.
First, we knew that legal officers would be allowed to carry out some of the tasks currently performed by employment judges. Those tasks are set out in the SI and include:-
- considering acceptance or rejection of claim forms
- extending time for an ET3 or for compliance with case management orders
- giving permission to amend claims and responses when both parties consent
- ordering further information
- dismissing claims by consent upon withdrawal
Legal officers will not decide substantive matters and, despite the title, do not need to be legally qualified (take that, George Orwell).
Second, and importantly, the Acas Early Conciliation provisions are changing to allow a standard six week early conciliation process in all cases, rather than a default one month with a possible extension of a further two weeks. This is sensible (the previous position was unnecessarily complicated) and also allows for the fact that Acas is experiencing backlogs and, I understand anecdotally, some employers are not being contacted until the third or fourth week of the early conciliation period.