Employment Tribunal Process Explained

03 January 2017

In England & Wales an Employment Tribunal is a Court that deals with disputes between employers and employees when they can’t resolve their issue themselves.

There are rules that accompany the Employment Tribunal process and it’s really important that you are aware of them if you are thinking of making a claim against your employer.

We explain the important information you need so you can understand how the Employment Tribunal process works.

Starting an Employment Claim

In most cases y____ou only have 3 months less 1 day to submit a claim. Time is an important factor in Employment Tribunal claims because it is so short. This means if you’ve been dismissed from your job, you have three months less 1 day from when you were dismissed to make a claim for unfair dismissal.

If you are still employed, you still only have 3 months less 1 day from the date the problem, issue or dispute happened. You should get legal advice as soon as possible or it could be too late.

For some employment claim types you have longer than 3 months, for example, for an equal pay claim or redundancy pay claim you have up to 6 months less 1 day. It is important that you obtain advice about Employment Tribunal time limits at the outset so that you do not lose the right to pursue your claim.

Early Conciliation

In most cases before you can start the Employment Tribunal process, you have to show that you have tried to settle the dispute with your employer. It is a requirement of the Employment Tribunal process that you enter into Early Conciliation through ACAS.

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides Early Conciliation and it’s completely free to use. The Employment Tribunal time limit clock is paused whilst you are in the process of Early Conciliation.

If Early Conciliation works, you’ll reach an agreement with your employer and you won’t need to continue onto an Employment Tribunal. If not, you’ll be given an Early Conciliation Certificate which you will need to provide when you make a claim and the time limit will restart again. It is important that you obtain advice from an employment law solicitor about Employment Tribunal time limits as the extension of time provisions around Early Conciliation are complicated.

For more details see Early Conciliation and Making an Employment Law Claim.

Employment Tribunal Claim Fees

There is now a fee involved in making a claim at an Employment Tribunal. The amount depends on the type of claim you are making.

If you are claiming for unpaid wages, unpaid redundancy pay or a breach of your contract, you’ll pay an issue fee of £160 and then a hearing fee of £230. This is a total of £390. These are called Type A claims.

If you are claiming for Unfair Dismissal, Discrimination at Work, Whistleblowing or making a Equal Pay Claim, the fees are higher. You’ll pay £250 issue fee with a fee of £950 for the hearing. This is a total of £1,200. These are called Type B claims. If you are on certain benefits or low income you can apply to get help with Employment Tribunal fees.

If you win your Employment Tribunal claim, the Judge will usually order your employer to reimburse your Tribunal fees as part of the judgment. If you do not get a judgment then this will need to be agreed in your Settlement Agreement.

Your employer could face financial penalties if your case goes to an Employment Tribunal and they lose. Not only will they have to pay compensation to you and your Employment Tribunal fees (if this is agreed in your settlement), they may also have to pay a penalty fee. This could be anywhere between £100 and a maximum of £5,000. This money goes to the Government.

This penalty is in place to encourage employers not to break employment laws and if they do, to settle the claim with their employee before they take the claim to an Employment Tribunal.

Attending an Employment Tribunal Hearing

Your Employment Solicitor can talk you through the whole process. Whilst attending the hearing may seem daunting and stressful, the Employment Tribunal Judge really just wants to hear your side of things as part of considering all of the evidence.

The Judge and your employer’s barrister will have your written witness statement, but may want some clarification from you. If you do have to give evidence, just answer the questions you are asked and stay calm. The Judge is impartial and will decide the outcome based on the facts of your case.

Win or Lose

Your Employment Solicitor will discuss with you the chances of your claim succeeding. Some employment law cases are very clear cut, others not so clear. No one can ever predict the outcome of a case, but your Employment Solicitor should be in a position to take a good indication using their knowledge and experience.

If you win, you’ll be compensated for your losses and in some cases, if you’ve been dismissed and if it’s appropriate, the Judge may re-instate you into your position.

Your Employment Solicitor should request that your issue and hearing fees be paid in your settlement too.

If you lose, you won’t be paid any compensation or get your Tribunal fees paid for.

How Do I Know If I Can Claim?

It’s really important to speak to a specialist Employment Law Solicitor as soon as you can to get legal advice on whether you have a strong claim or not. Depending on the number of documents and complexity of your claim they may be in a position to tell you quite quickly if you have a claim.

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