Question to the Ministry of Justice:
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps her Department is taking to reduce the backlog in employment tribunals.
Despite the enormous challenges the employment tribunals have faced since the onset of the pandemic, they have remained open and operational throughout. We adapted swiftly to support remote ways of working and running hearings virtually, to ensure ongoing access to justice where cases cannot be heard in person. As a result, the employment tribunals are the single largest user of the Cloud Video Platform across all our tribunals and have used record numbers of remote hearings to return hearing capacity to its pre-Covid level. We have also embarked on an ambitious recruitment campaign for both judges and legal officers to further boost capacity and allow us to work through outstanding cases as efficiently as possible.
However, significant challenges remain. We are working closely with the judiciary to continue to improve our disposal rate through maximising judicial capacity and driving further recruitment of judges. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice and the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy have also been working closely on what further measures we can introduce to support recovery across the employment dispute system, and to enhance its resilience and sustainability in the longer term.
The Judicial Review and Courts Bill currently before Parliament will make the independent Tribunal Procedure Committee responsible for Employment Tribunal (ET) and Employment Appeal Tribunal procedure rules. This will allow for a quicker response to the need for changes to ET rules to meet changing circumstances and maximise the impact of ongoing work to tackle the impact of COVID-19 backlogs.