Unfair dismissal claims are now being listed for hearing within 16 weeks of issue.

The move is the result of a new listing policy adopted by Employment Tribunals in England and Wales. The claims are being listed for a one-day hearing on receipt of the claim form in an attempt to ensure that claims are heard more quickly.

The policy only applies to unfair dismissal claims, including unfair dismissal claims which are combined with other simple claims such as unlawful deductions and redundancy payment claims. However, it does not apply where an unfair dismissal claim is combined with more a more complex claim such as discrimination or whistleblowing.

Initially, both parties will be asked to consider if a one-day hearing is long enough and, if not, give reasons in writing with their time estimate – on receipt of the notice of claim. The response due as normal 28 days from receipt of claim. There will then be strict deadlines to meet around every two weeks, such as submitting documents and exchanging witness statements.

Michelle Christophorou, an associate at law firm Nabarro, said: “While meeting these deadlines will present a real challenge for all concerned, the new timetable should help employers dispose more cost-effectively with the more straightforward claims, as well as assisting the tribunals with clearing their backlog.”

She added: “Large employers who receive a high volume of claims may also need to review their processes generally to ensure that HR, legal, and the business are all aware of the need (and are in a position) to act promptly and proactively, for example, in searching for documents and diarising witness meetings. This timetable will also, of course, focus the mind on the possibility of early settlement.”