Article by Judge Brian Doyle, President, Employment Tribunals (England & Wales)
This summer, the Judicial Appointments Commission will launch an exercise to recruit additional salaried employment judges in England and Wales. For the first time, these salaried appointments will be open to eligible candidates with or without previous judicial experience.
We have not recruited fee-paid or salaried employment judges for more than five years. While a future fee-paid recruitment exercise is hoped for, the salaried competition is an excellent and unprecedented opportunity to consider a career in the employment judiciary. Could you be an employment judge?
The background will be well known to this readership. The introduction of employment tribunal fees in July 2013 led to a two-thirds fall in caseload. Some employment judges were deployed or cross-assigned for part of their time to the county court or other tribunals. A business case could not be made to replenish the ranks of salaried judges who were promoted or retired.
The caseload has now returned – almost doubling with a 90% increase – since the abolition of fees as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision in Unison last July. There is an outstanding caseload. We are also concerned to be able to maintain, if not improve, employment tribunal performance.
There are 54 full-time equivalent (FTE) vacancies across the 10 employment tribunal regions in England and Wales, although not at all the principal hearing centres. Salaried and fee-paid employment judges have recently been appointed in Scotland and the present exercise does not apply in that jurisdiction.
Salaried part-time working opportunities will be available at between 50% and 90% of the FTE, working five-day weeks in blocks of four weeks or more. The employment tribunal has always been in the vanguard of encouraging colleagues with caring and other responsibilities, such that term-time working, for example, has long been an attractive proposition. We also want to further improve the diversity profile of the tribunal.
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