British employment tribunals: from the side-lines to centre stage
- Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Employment tribunals, originally called industrial tribunals, were established 50 years ago in Great Britain and this article traces their gradual change. Originally constituted as administrative tribunals in 1964, they morphed to party versus party forums from the 1970s, but this change did not stop there. Over the succeeding years, employment tribunals moved from a marginal role to a central role in British employment relations, as their caseload has risen, their remit has widened, and as legal regulation has replaced collective regulation. Moreover in so doing, employment tribunals have become less accessible to workers, less speedy and more expensive. They have also become more formal, with legal norms and practices and adjudication by lawyers alone replacing industrial relations norms and adjudication by a mix of lawyers and lay people. As a result, employment tribunals have become juridified. The article concludes by critiquing the basis of employment tribunals which is the self-help/complainant after the event approach, as opposed to state enforcement of statutory employment rights.