HM Judiciary is to recruit more than 50 employment judges to cope with the soaring caseload in employment tribunals and will, for the first time, open the role to those without previous judicial experience.
There are 54 full-time equivalent (FTE) vacancies across ten employment tribunal regions in England and Wales. The role is advertised as paying £108,171 – with a £4,000 'combined salary lead and allowance’ for London-based judges. It is the first time fee-paid or salaried employment judges have been sought for more than five years.
In an article posted online, Judge Brian Doyle, president of Employment Tribunals (England & Wales), confirmed that the caseload at tribunals had increased by almost 90% since the Supreme Court ruled that fees were unlawful in July last year.
Doyle said he wanted to do ‘everything I can’ to encourage experienced lawyers to consider the opportunity to begin a judicial career. ‘You might be a relatively senior solicitor looking for new challenges. You could be a partner who has seen and done it all and who wants to give something back to the system. Perhaps you are a “senior junior” at the bar (or a silk) for whom the judicial calling holds attractions, but not as a generalist judge in the courts.’
Doyle added that the role may also be attractive for fellows of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, professional support lawyers or legal academics.
The hired judges will work 220 days a year, have six weeks’ annual leave, eight bank holiday days and 2.5 'privilege days’.
'My expectation is that judges will keep reasonable business hours and, with appropriate management by the regional leadership judges, should be given adequate time for decision-writing and so on. If judges work in the evenings or at weekends, then they do so as a matter of personal working preference. It is neither encouraged nor expected, which might strike some as a welcome change,’ Doyle said.
In October last year the Gazette reported that tribunals were failing to hit basic targets and judges were departing without being replaced. At the time, Doyle said that despite losing salaried resources there ‘were currently no recruitment exercises planned’.
However, writing in the Senior President of Tribunals' Annual Report, published today, Doyle said the lord chancellor had agreed that the ranks of salaried employment judges may be replenished and that it is also hoped that this will give rise to recruit new fee-paid judges and non-legal members in the 'not too distant future'.
The recruitment exercise will begin this summer.