Employment Tribunal Hearing wait times

February 28, 2023
Angela Brumpton


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On 8 February 2023, Mike Freer, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice, answered a written question in Parliament, providing information on the average waiting times in the employment tribunal from receipt of claim to first Employment Tribunal Hearing.

Below is a table, showing wait times from 2008 – 2021 (there is no data available for 2022 as at the time of writing):

Calendar YearAverage Waiting Time (weeks)
January to December 200831
January to December 200927
January to December 201030
January to December 201130
January to December 201231
January to December 201327
January to December 201436
January to December 201530
January to December 201629
January to December 201730
January to December 201832
January to December 201938
January to December 202046
January to March 202149

Understanding the data

We do not know for sure whether first Employment Tribunal Hearing includes preliminary hearings, but we assume it does.

The average number of weeks between receipt of a claim and the first Employment Tribunal hearing has increased, from 31 weeks in 2008 to 49 weeks in 2021. Obviously if  ‘first hearing’ includes preliminary hearings, then the average waiting time for reaching a final hearing could be far longer.

Anyone who has any involvement with employment tribunal claims will know that waiting times are significant, and generally much longer than they used to be.  This has broad implications for the delivery of justice in employment law.  Claimants may have to wait years for a remedy whilst suffering financial hardship.  Respondents may benefit from claimants withdrawing claims as their lives move on, or not bothering to make them at all. As memories fade and personnel leave employment, the ability of Respondents to effectively defend claims can be adversely impacted.

On the plus side, all of the above makes settling disputes at an early stage via settlement or COT3 agreements more attractive to both sides,  and it will be interesting to see if this has a long term effect on employment tribunal waiting times.

If you have an employment dispute that would benefit from an early settlement, or you have received an employment tribunal claim, please do not hesitate to contact us for support and we will guide you to the best solution for you and your business.