Employment Tribunals: Everything You Need To Know

    In the working world, disputes will inevitably occur between employees and employers. However, as an employee, it can sometimes be challenging to know whether you have access to legal action should you feel that you have been wronged. 

    This is where the employment tribunal comes in. But what exactly is this tribunal? How do you even start to submit a claim with the tribunal, and what happens if you lose? We answer this and much more in this blog. 

    What is an employment tribunal?

    An employment tribunal deals with disputes between employees and employers or trade unions. These legal hearings are usually brought about due to disputes regarding employment rights such as discrimination, unfair dismissal, unequal pay and redundancy payments. 

    What are the steps of an employment tribunal?

    There are six possible steps to an employment tribunal. The case must be considered legally worth continuing with these steps, but if it is, here is what you can expect:

    1. Filing a claim: Employees who believe they have been wronged by their employer can file a claim with an employment tribunal within three months of the date of the alleged incident.
    2. Response from the employer: The employer has 28 days to respond once the claim has been filed. They can either admit or deny the claim, or submit a counterclaim.
    3. Preliminary hearing: A preliminary hearing may be held to determine if the case is suitable for a full hearing. The preliminary hearing may cover procedural matters, such as witness statements and the exchange of relevant documents.
    4. Full hearing: If the case proceeds to a full hearing, it will be heard by a panel of three people: a legally qualified employment judge and two non-legal members. The hearing will involve the presentation of evidence from both sides, including witness testimony.
    5. Decision: After the hearing, the tribunal issues a written decision. This decision will outline the findings of the tribunal, and any remedies or compensation that the employer must provide if they are found to have breached employment law.
    6. Appeals: Either side can appeal the decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal if they believe there has been an error in law. Appeals must be lodged within 42 days of the original decision.

    Employment tribunal costs

    When employees start a tribunal claim, they do not have to pay any fees. Tribunal fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court in 2017. 

    How do you make a claim to an employment tribunal?

    Before you submit a claim to the employment tribunal, you should first obtain legal advice so that you can better understand your options and advice on possible ways of dissolving the dispute before submitting a claim to the tribunal. 

    Then you will have to contact ACAS about the dispute and enter into Early Conciliation via their website. Early Conciliation usually lasts for 6 weeks, and during this time, they will see if your claim can be settled.  This timeframe can be extended further with agreement from both parties.  

    After this, you will now be able to lodge your claim with the employment tribunal by completing and submitting the ET1 claim form. Now the respondent (the employer) will be allowed to reply and also send in their own accounts to the tribunal. 

    Thereafter, the claimant and respondent will submit and exchange documentation, evidence and witness statements. This will then go to the employment tribunal hearing, during which both parties will be questioned. The tribunal will then make a decision based on the information and evidence. Should the claimant win, the tribunal will decide on the compensation. 

    What happens if I lose an employment tribunal?

    Should you lose your case, as an employee, you are permitted to ask the tribunal to review their decision. This must either be done at the tribunal or within the 14 days after the decision has been recorded. However, the grounds for asking for such a review are limited. It is also possible for employers or their tribunal representatives to ask for a review. 

    Alternatively, you can make an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), a special tribunal that deals exclusively with appeals on decisions made in employment tribunals. However, these appeals can only be made if they pertain to a point of law. Generally, they do not reconsider facts that have already been decided upon by the employment tribunal. Appeals lodged with EAT should be done within the 42 days following the employment tribunal’s decision. 

    How long does an employment tribunal take?

    When it comes to filing the claim, this should be done within three months of the incident or three months after your dismissal or resignation. All in all, the tribunal process will generally take 6-12 months to be completed. 

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