New Rules and a New Name for the Island's Employment Tribunal

Posted on February 21, 2019

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Employment lawyer John Aycock explains how the Island’s Employment Tribunal is spreading its wings

Two of the bigger guns in the Island’s equality legislation are now less than a year away from implementation. The protected characteristics of age and disability will be enlivened on 1 January 2020. That might create quite a stir.

Meantime to accommodate the evolving rights afforded by the Equality Act 2017, the rules that govern the tribunal which assesses these claims have themselves changed. The entity is now called the Employment and Equality Tribunal and there is in place a 39-page document called the Employment and Equality Tribunal Rules 2018. These are an expanded version of the previous Employment Tribunal Rules 2008. The scope of the work the new tribunal now deals with is wider, hence the need for new rules. As well as employment based claims, the Employment and Equality Tribunal will deal with allegations of discrimination in the provision of goods and services, something it has not hitherto handled.

Claims existing prior to the commencement of the new rules will continue using the framework of the 2008 rules. All claims made on or after 1 January 2019 will be subject to the new rules. The principal provisions of the 2008 rules are carried forward into the 2018 rules, for instance the focus to deal with cases justly and in accordance with the overriding objective which remains the guiding principle for both the parties and the tribunal itself. Unlike the UK, however, the Manx tribunal still has no jurisdiction to hear employment contract disputes involving notice period monies known as wrongful dismissal claims (not to be confused with unfair dismissal claims which it continues to hear).

By broadening the tribunal’s scope, the caseload is likely to increase. This happened in the UK after the advent of mainstream equality rights and a decision was taken to introduce filing fees for tribunal claimants. But the UK fee regime was found to be unlawful in 2017, resulting in a massive refund programme being implemented – which still continues today – and a spectacular spike in new fee-free claims.

The Isle of Man, by contrast, has not introduced tribunal fees but there is an enabling power in the Equality Act 2017 to do so. The new Employment and Equality Tribunal rules do not introduce fees.

The increase in UK tribunal applications has led to a programme of recruitment of more Employment Judges to handle the heavier caseloads.

It will be interesting to see how the Manx Employment and Equality Tribunal progresses now that its wings have been spread.

Advocate John Aycock has 28 years’ experience of handling employment law matters in three different jurisdictions.

Contact: jta@mplegal.im

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