Employment Tribunal

Claims are issued by employees against employers and can typically relate to the following disputes:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Wrongful dismissal
  • Constructive dismissal
  • Workplace discrimination (such as sex discrimination, race discrimination and age discrimination)
  • Equal pay
  • Deductions from wages

An employment tribunal follows a similar process to the civil courts, although the process and the hearing are slightly less formal.

Once the claim has been submitted by the current or former employee (the ‘Claimant’), the employer (the ‘Respondent’) has the opportunity to reply and submit their account of events, within a 28-day deadline.

The Tribunal will then provide Case Management Directions and a timetable the parties must follow up to the date of a final hearing, including providing the relevant information and documents to each other.

An employment judge will make a decision on the outcome of a tribunal claim at a final hearing.

Employment tribunal claims are complex and bringing and defending a claim can be a stressful and costly process. Depending on the complexity of the matter, it can take up to 12 to 18 months to reach a conclusion. However, the system is designed to encourage parties to settle their differences and most claims settle before the case gets to a final hearing.

We can help you to deal with a claim by ensuring you following the correct legal process and adhere to important deadline dates, as well as drafting documents and statements addressing the legal and factual issues the tribunal will need to determine.


Frequently Asked Questions

The employment tribunal is an independent tribunal that makes decisions to resolve legal disputes in employment law matters between employers and employees.

Examples of unlawful claims that the ET may deal with include unfair dismissal, redundancy, discrimination, equal pay and unlawful deduction from wages.

No, fees were abolished in employment tribunal proceedings in July 2017 when the Supreme Court ruled them unlawful and unconstitutional. This has resulted in a significant increase in the number of claims being brought in the ET.

Yes, there are strict time limits which employees must adhere to. In the majority of cases, employees will be required to submit their claim to the ET within three months less one day from the date of termination or the date of the dispute or treatment giving rise to the claim.

There are some exceptions where an employee has a longer time limit, for example, in a claim for equal pay, an employee has a period of six months less one day from the date of termination to bring a claim.

An additional one month is allowed for Acas conciliation (plus a further 14 days in some circumstances). This conciliation period temporarily stops the normal three or six-month clock for lodging a Tribunal claim until conciliation has ended

If an employee does not bring a claim within the required time, the claim will not proceed to be heard by the ET unless an extension is granted.

Early conciliation (EC) is mandatory for all claims. It is a pre-requisite in the legal process that before employees can issue a claim in the ET, they must first contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to begin early conciliation and attempt to reach a settlement between the parties. If settlement is not reached, or either party refuses to engage, Acas will issue an EC certificate to the employee to enable them to proceed with an ET claim.

The ET will send you a response pack which includes a copy of the claim form and ET3 form for you to complete to respond to the claim.

Employers are required to respond within 28 days of receiving the claim. If you do not respond within this time limit, the ET may make a decision against you without a hearing.

You can try to settle the case at any time before the final ET hearing by offering to pay compensation to the employee. If is worth considering settling out of court if it is possible to do so on reasonable terms and to avoid the legal costs incurred in defending a claim all the way to a hearing.

If you have acted lawfully, and you believe reaching a settlement may send out the wrong message to other employees, it is worth considering defending the claim in full.

An employer and employee may wish to settle an employment dispute without going all the way to a Tribunal final hearing either between themselves directly, by using the Acas conciliation service or by using an external or internal mediator. Settlement will lead to an agreement called a “Settlement Agreement” or an agreement achieved through Acas conciliation called a “COT3”.

Most hearings in the ET are held in public and open court, which means that members of the pubic and the press are free to attend and listen to the evidence heard and the judgments delivered.

Depending on the nature of the claim, if the employee succeeds in their claim, you may be ordered to pay compensation, reinstate (give them their job back) or re-engage (give them a comparable job) the employee.

Compensation is the most common remedy and is based on the financial loss suffered by the employee as a result of the employer’s unlawful actions.

This depends on the type of claim.

In successful claims for unfair dismissal, the compensation awarded is based on the employee’s financial loss. The statutory cap for compensatory awards is currently £105,707.

In successful cases of discrimination, there is no cap on financial awards which covers not only financial loss but also an award for ‘injury to feelings’.

The ET also has the power to increase an award of compensation by up to 25% if it finds there has been a failure to comply with the requirements of any relevant Acas Code of Practice on the part of the employer.

You should gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim or defence. This will include documentary evidence such as minutes of meetings, all relevant correspondence and details witness statements