Who sits on an Employment Tribunal panel?

An Employment Tribunal hearing will always be chaired by a judge (known as an Employment Judge). As with judges in other courts and tribunals, Employment Judges are independent members of the judiciary, appointed followed selection exercises operated by the Judicial Appointments Commission and subject to statutory qualifying criteria.

There are about 600 Employment Judges in England and Wales. Roughly two thirds of them are known as fee paid judges. They are almost always solicitors, barristers or legal executives still in private practice. They spend about 30 days a year (sometimes more) performing judicial duties. About a third of them are salaried judges. In contrast to fee paid judges, salaried judges have left their practice as a solicitor or barrister to devote themselves fully to performing judicial duties. Most salaried Employment Judges have been appointed from the ranks of fee paid Employment Judges who, in turn, have mostly been drawn from the ranks of expert practitioners in employment and discrimination law.

There is no difference in authority between the judgment of a salaried Employment Judge and the judgment of a fee paid Employment Judge.

Sometime, the Employment Judge may decide a case with two lay individuals known as non-legal members. There are about 900 non-legal members in England and Wales. They are split into two panels. The first panel is for those with experience of the workplace from the perspective of an employer, such as a business owner or human resources specialist. The second panel is for those with experience of the workplace from the perspective of an employee, such as a trade union official. For some types of case, a non-legal member will be appointed from each panel to sit with the Employment Judge, so that there are three people in total. This ensures that the Employment Tribunals have a balance of industrial experience.

View a list of judges of the Employment Tribunals in England and Wales.