The Employment Rights Tribunal will soon resume hearing unfair dismissal cases.
Minister of Labour Colin Jordan told members of the media today that the legislative change that was needed to get the tribunal going again has been passed and he expects the body to meet within the next few weeks.
Back in September 2018, the tribunal’s new chairman Christopher Blackman had disclosed there were some aspects of the Act governing the tribunal that caused the new board concern, and the law had to be amended before any new cases could be heard.
One of the main changes he proposed related to having the tribunal’s commissioners take an oath of office.
“The tribunal is given the powers of a court, particularly when you add the matters of the sexual harassment legislation to it. But the tribunal itself isn’t being sworn by anyone, yet it is being empowered to administer oaths to people. And it seems to me to be a little bit of an anomaly that we are invested with the right to swear people under the Commissions of Inquiry Act, but we ourselves have not been given an oath of office to do our job in the way that commissions of tribunals are supposed to do,” Blackman had declared at the time.
However, Jordan said today that those issues have been addressed. He also insisted that although the tribunal had not been meeting, work was still being done.
“The amendment we wanted to pass has been passed and the tribunals will meet, latest, early March. However, work has been going on even though the tribunals have not been meeting. [They] have been going through many of the cases that are before the tribunal…so I don’t think that we need to fear,” the minister said.
“We inherited a system that was broken, but I am of the view that there is a time that you curse the people who bequeath you the broken system, but there comes a time when you have to face it and fix it and that’s what we’re doing—facing the issue and fixing it.”