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Covid-19 impact on Employment Tribunals

By Kerishni Kundasamy, Sheffield Hallam Law Student

It will not come as a surprise that businesses and all individuals who were and are currently employed have been impacted by Covid-19. The global pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty which has meant the closure of some businesses. The furlough scheme has now been extended to 31st March 2021 which will inevitably be a relief for some. However, it is unlikely for some businesses who have been severely affected by the lockdown to even return back to normal business. There have already been many redundancies and it will continue to be the case in the next few months as the furlough scheme eventually winds down.

If an individual has been unfairly dismissed, they have to make their claim within 3 months of the dismissal. Compared to other areas of law, this is not a long time and often some people don’t realise that they actually have already missed the deadline! If you think you have a claim, you should fill in your ET1 claim form as soon as possible. Before bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal it is an obligation for the claimant to go through ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) in order to try and conciliate. One of the services ACAS offers is early conciliation. This is where an ACAS adviser will talk to the employer to see if they would like to settle. This is particularly useful at the moment as parties will be encouraged to try and settle before the Tribunal process begins as there will be delays.

The hearings for some cases have already been pushed back to 2022 as the tribunal has been prioritising cases that are more urgent. As a result, Employment Tribunals are encouraging parties to consider alternative ways of resolving disputes. For instance, judicial mediation might be an option to be considered as it involves less preparation compared to an actual hearing. Judicial mediation is where both parties will be brought together at a preliminary hearing where an Employment Judge will try to help the parties come to an agreement to settle the dispute.

Moreover, SHU Law as a firm has been doing its part by assisting individuals regarding their employment law claims.  Our employment solicitor has already received a number of client enquiries regarding unfair dismissals amongst others. SHU Law are committed to helping those who are not represented and cannot afford legal advice. SHU Law offers free legal advice and is a non-for-profit law firm and therefore improves access to justice. Legal advice comes at a cost and at SHU Law we recognise this means that some people in our community will not be able to fight for their rights. It is for this reason that SHU Law is unlike any other law firm.

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