Employment tribunal judgments are now online
Employment tribunal judgements are now available online. How will the search benefit businesses and employees?
A search facility listing new employment tribunal decisions has been launched on the gov.uk website for the first time, which is free to users.
The new online database has been introduced with a view to facilitating access to tribunal judgments and is part of the Government’s “open justice” initiative which applies to courts and tribunals in England and Wales. The database can be accessed using the following link https://www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions
The webpage will allow the public to search for first-instance tribunal judgments from England, Wales and Scotland using drop-down menus and a free-text search. You can search by either the company name, the person who brought the claim, the date, or by inputting a generic search term (for example “unfair dismissal or “race discrimination)” which will then produce all judgments relevant to the specified search term.
It had been envisaged that the new database would include only new employment tribunal judgments, however the live database does already include about 100 judgments from 2016, and some dating back to 2015. A full database of past judgments can still be obtained by attending the register office in Bury St Edmunds for English and Welsh decisions, and in Glasgow for Scottish decisions.
By making tribunal judgments readily available to a wide audience, including the media, other businesses, employees and job applicants, it opens up a potential new dynamic in the relationship between employer and employee, depending on how such information is perceived and acted on.
For employers, there could be obvious reputational damage, especially if the case is lost or there is a pattern of claims being made. The actions of individual managers may also come under the spotlight if they are mentioned in the judgement. Such exposure may instill a greater confidence in other claimants who were thinking of bringing similar claims. In light of such risks, employers could now be more encouraged to settle claims where there are usually binding confidentiality provisions, rather than incur adverse publicity both within their workforce or in the wider field.
There are potential downsides for claimants too. Some fear that companies may use the search tool as part of their recruiting process and “blacklist” previous litigants as a result. Many prospective employers already screen job applicants by checking their social media profiles as part of their recruitment process, so looking to see if they have taken their previous employer to a tribunal with the new online tool would be a simple extension of the vetting process.
Regardless of whether both the claimant and employer would prefer a tribunal judgement to not be so openly published, the introduction of the new search facility means it’s now taken out of their hands.
By Philip Landau , Landau Law Solicitors