Corporate

The ITFET is supported by an administrative team known as the Secretariat and is headed by a Secretary to the Tribunals. The office is commonly known as “OITFET” – the Office of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal. The administrative team are employees of the Department for the Economy. There are currently 60 staff across 4 sections:

1. Corporate Governance, Finance and Premises

This team is responsible for ensuring that all Departmental returns are completed and Freedom of Information/Subject Access Requests/ Data Protection Issues/ Assembly Questions/Media enquiries are dealt with within specific timelines.

The team is responsible for the processing and payment of all invoices and expense claims received from employment judges, panel members, witnesses, independent experts and interpreters.

The team also has responsibility for the maintenance of the premises and office equipment, as well as security. 

The team maintain the public register by uploading all judgements and written reasons to the website.

2. Vetting

The Vetting team is responsible for the receipt and distribution of all post received.  This mainly consists of claim forms, responses and correspondence.  The team scrutinise all claims and responses to ensure that they are legally correct before the claim can be registered and issued to the potential respondent(s). A similar vetting process is undertaken on receipt of a response to a claim.

Where claims/responses cannot be accepted, they must be referred to an Employment Judge for a direction. 

The team prepares claims for the early case management stage of the process and refers them to an employment judge for direction.

The team are responsible for the listing of any reconsideration applications received following the part or full rejection of claims or responses.

3. Listing

The Listing team is responsible for organising the hearings to be heard by the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal.  This involves close liaison with the President, Vice President, Employment Judges and Lay Members to agree suitable dates and panel membership.  The hearings are normally held in Killymeal House but may be conducted on a fully remote basis using Webex; on a hybrid basis where some, but not all, participants attend remotely; or at another location where circumstances require and the President or Vice President has directed.

The team prepare case papers for full hearings for the panel members and also develop and issue the weekly hearing schedule and issue the Notices of Hearing to parties.

4. Tribunals

The Tribunal team deals with all the correspondence relating to a claim after it has been through the vetting and initial listing stages. The team will maintain an accurate record of the progress of each case including correspondence and telephone enquiries from parties and seek direction from judiciary.

The team carry out case work for listed cases following the first preliminary hearing until the conclusion of the case, including reconsiderations and appeals.

The team provides the clerks to administer the hearings which includes preparation of papers, taking brief notes where necessary, swearing in of witnesses, recording proceedings, issuing records of proceedings, actioning directions and issuing judgements to the parties.

5. Citizens charter

OITFET provides administration support to the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal in Northern Ireland. We have 60 staff headed by the Secretary to the Tribunals.

We aim to provide you with a service that is fair, accurate and based on mutual trust and respect.

This Charter explains the standards of service you can expect from us and what we expect from you.

Please note that OITFET staff are unable to provide you with legal advice or provide opinion on the merits of your case. We can advise you solely on procedure.

Content

  1. Your rights - what you can expect from us
  2. Your obligations - what we expect from you

Secretary to the Tribunals
12 August 2019

                                            

1. Your rights - what you can expect from us

  • Respect

We will treat you with courtesy and respect.

  • A helpful, efficient and effective service

We will deal with your claims, responses and correspondence as quickly as we can. We will help you to understand the Tribunal process and what you are required to do.

  • To be professional and act with integrity

We will ensure that our staff have the necessary expertise to help you and we will make sure that any information you send to us is referred to an Employment Judge for consideration as soon as possible.

  • To protect your information

We will protect information we receive, obtain or hold about you and only share information when the law allows us to.

  • Accept that you can appoint a representative

We will respect your wish to have someone represent you. To protect your privacy we will only deal with them if we have received formal notification that they have been appointed to represent you. We will deal with them courteously and professionally.

  • To deal with complaints quickly and fairly

We will deal with your complaint or appeal as quickly as we can. We will ensure that your complaint is dealt with in accordance with our Complaints Policy which is available on our website via the following link - Publications.

 

2. Your Obligations – what we expect from you

  • Respect our staff and premises

The personal safety of our staff and all our visitors is of paramount importance to us and we expect you to treat our staff, visitors and our premises with the respect you would expect for yourself.

  • Respond to correspondence in good time

Send us any information asked of you in good time and by the date given in our correspondence which will be set by an Employment Judge. If you are unable to respond within the time limit or are unable to attend a hearing you must tell us immediately. This will enable us to ensure your case is referred to an Employment Judge to consider if other arrangements should be made to enable your case to progress.

  • Help us to help you

If you require any special arrangements to be made to enable your case to progress please complete the section provided for this on your claim form. This will allow us to make any adjustments necessary in good time and avoid unnecessary delay in your case.

  • Keep us informed

If there is any change to the position in relation to your case or if any of your contact details change, please let us know as soon as possible to ensure our records are up to date and all correspondence is sent to the correct address.

  • Keep in touch with your representative

If you have a representative we will correspond with him/her directly so it is important that you keep in contact with your representative.

It is also important to notify us if you change your representative or if you no longer have one as soon as possible.  

  • Be prompt

It is important that you attend hearings as required in good time and prepare in advance to enable your case to proceed.

6. Making a complaint

The Office of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal staff aim to provide a high quality, efficient and effective administrative service. If you are unhappy with our service, please let us know.

We aim to deal with all claims, responses, applications and enquiries as quickly as possible and provide our customers with a polite and efficient service.

How to make a complaint about administration

If you are not satisfied with the administration of your case you can submit a complaint online using the “Complaints” field on our website www.employmenttribunalsni.co.uk or download the form and send it to:

Customer Services Manager
Office of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal
Killymeal House
2 Cromac Quay
Belfast
BT7 2JD

We will ensure that your concerns are followed up promptly and fairly. We will acknowledge receipt of your complaint within 5 working days.

If we have made a mistake we will apologise. We will tell you what went wrong and what we are doing to put things right. Your complaint will be dealt with within 15 working days.

If you are unhappy with the reply from the Customer Services Manager you can write to the Secretary of the Tribunals at the same address.

You may decide to refer your complaint to the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO). You can get advice from NIPSO at the following address:

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman
Progressive House
33 Wellington Park
Belfast
BT1 6HN

Tel: 028 90 233821
Freefone: 0800 343424
Email:
nipso@nipso.org.uk

How to make a complaint about Judicial matters 

If your complaint relates to the hearing of your case, or any other judicial matter, you can write to the President of the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal at the above address.

Please note that the President cannot alter or intervene in a decision made by a Tribunal. When you receive your written decision you will be sent guidance notes explaining how to apply for a review or appeal against the decision of the tribunal and the relevant time limits.