What You Must Know Before You Make an Employment Tribunal Claim
You’d want to make an employment tribunal claim if you are faced with one of the following situations:
- You have a problem at work that can’t be resolved internally.
- Your employer has committed an illicit action (e.g., discrimination, harassment, violence, etc.)
If the problem is related to a specific action or omission, we suggest you settle it amicably first by reaching your employer or manager personally or via text. If the issue persists, you can always have recourse to a formal grievance.
Your grievance should follow either the company’s internal guidelines or, in its absence, the Acas Code of Practice. Your employer is also bound by these procedure requirements and is obliged to provide an adequate response within a reasonable timescale, depending on the gravity of the situation.
If the problem can’t be resolved because you were dismissed unfairly or forced to quit because of your employer’s behaviour (constructive dismissal), you essentially have no other option but to file a tribunal claim.
Also, before making a claim, you must analyse your case thoroughly and opt for early conciliation first. We have provided details on these below.
- What You Must Know Before You Make an Employment Tribunal Claim
- Analyse Your Case Thoroughly
- Early Conciliation
- Filling In the Claim Form
- Joint Claim to an Employment Tribunal
- Tips on Filling In the Claim Form
- What Information Should I Provide in My Claim Form?
- Amendments to Your Claim Form
- After Making the Claim
- Witnesses and the Tribunal Hearing
- Tribunal Hearing and Decision
- Reconsideration and Appeal
- How We Can Help You
- Frequently Asked Questions
Analyse Your Case Thoroughly
Before making a claim, take some time to analyse how strong your case is. An employment tribunal will scrutinise your case very carefully by applying legal tests to the facts you present, so it’s a good idea to get help from one of our employment advisers if you’re unsure about your odds.
You should also examine if going to an employment tribunal will help you accomplish what you pursue. For example, if you don’t care about compensation but just want your job back, it’s unlikely that a tribunal would order a reinstatement save for concrete allegations. In that situation, your best bet would be to sort things out with your employer.
In some scenarios, companies won’t be able to pay compensation because they’re going through financial difficulties and have stopped trading. If they’re a limited company, the chances of you getting paid may be slim, especially if they were a small or mid-sized business.
Some employers also engage in the practice of winding up and restarting, transferring their assets (but not their debts) to a new company (phoenix company), resulting in the old company’s extinction and subsequent inability to pay you. You should attempt to find out if your employer operates in this manner. “Phoenixing” is initially allowed in UK law, and even though a meticulous investigation might detect an unfit behavioural pattern, there is no guarantee that it will, which is something to keep in mind.
Lastly, check your insurance policies to see if they cover legal expenses. You could likewise get support from a trade union representative if you belong to one.
You’d need to go through an early conciliation process before moving forward with your claim (save for some exceptions).
This process is handled by Acas (Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service), a government-funded body that offers free impartial advice to employees, employers, and representatives on employment law issues.
You should request an early conciliation as soon as possible and should not be later than three months minus one day from the date of the disputed event (or six months for claims such as redundancy or equal pay). The conciliation period (which can last from one month to a month and 14 days) will not be counted towards the timescale for lodging your claim; consequently, the deadline will get postponed to a later date.
After the talks, Acas will hand you an early conciliation certificate, which has to be attached to the tribunal claim form.
If a settlement is agreed upon, Acas will issue a form called COT3 containing the terms of the agreement. This settlement is legally binding and can be brought up before a judge if its terms are not heeded.
Filling In the Claim Form
To start, you have two options:
- Fill in the online form (ET1) found at the GOV.UK website.
- Print a copy of the claim form and send it by post. This method is considerably slower and risky if you are near the deadline, for it could get lost.
If you send the form online, you should receive a confirmation message and a “notice of acknowledgement” informing you that the employment tribunal received it.
If you wish to send your form by post, be mindful that the tribunal will not process it if it was delivered beyond the deadline, even if you sent it within the limitation period. If it were delivered late, you’d have to show proof that the delivery was delayed due to an error on the post office’s part. For this purpose, you can show proof of postage. You should also receive a “notice of acknowledgement” in the post.
Joint Claim to an Employment Tribunal
The employment tribunal can link various claims of a similar nature and circumstances and assess them in the same judicial process. If you’re aware of other employees who have already made a claim against your employer, you can list their names on your form.
You can additionally make a claim alongside other people exposed to the same situation (for example, a group of employees made redundant by the same employer and in the same act).
For a joint claim, only one form needs to be filled in (form ET1A) and by only one of the affected employees, adding the names and addresses of all the other claimants.
Tips on Filling In the Claim Form
The claim form should be filled out orderly, explaining all relevant details. Try always to stay focused and avoid unnecessary filler. Furthermore, the occurrences should be exposed in chronological order.
It’s also good practice to number your paragraphs. That way, the employment judge will have an easier time browsing through the content, and you can point to the specific paragraph number anytime you need to reference it.
Making a claim at the employment tribunal can often be a confusing and tasking process. Our employment lawyers can help and support you through this. Call us today on 0333 305 9375 to discuss.
You’d have to provide personal information, including your name and home address.
Since a copy of the form is sent to your employer once approved, you may want to ask the tribunal to conceal sensitive information such as the address (for example, if you are claiming sexual harassment and don’t want your manager or employer to locate you). Alternatively, you could provide your address details in the “Additional Information” field.
In this field, you should place your employer’s details, whether it’s a person, company, or organisation. These details should be the same as they appear on the early conciliation certificate you are attaching.
Businesses tend to have a legal name distinct from their trade name (the name they use for carrying out commercial activities). You ought to use both your employer’s legal name and trading name. The legal name can be found in your contract of employment, your payslips, or your P60 or P45.
You can also look for your company’s full name on the Companies House webpage at GOV.UK. If you’re pressed for time, you could write down the name you think your employer is under and change it later if necessary.
If your hirer is a charity, you should name it if it’s a company limited by guarantee, a charitable company, or a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO). You should be able to find that information in the GOV.UK charity register webpage. On the other hand, if it’s an unincorporated charity or a charity trust, you’d have to put the names of the individual trustees (found on the charity register just mentioned).
If the respondent is a local authority school, you must name the members of the board of governors instead of the local authority.
Lastly, when making claims against partnerships, you must name the current partners.
If you’re an agency worker, you could make a claim against both the agency and the company where you were assigned.
In the case of discrimination claims, you could give out the details about:
- Your employer
- The person or group who discriminated against you
Here, you’ll disclose your employment start and end dates (if applicable) to determine the length of time and whether or not you meet the “qualifying period”.
Some employment tribunal claims can only be made after you reached a length of time under the same employer. For example, to make an unfair dismissal claim, you should have worked for your employer for at least two years (unless the reason for dismissal is “automatically unfair” according to employment law).
In addition, the end date is essential to help the judge assess whether or not you’re lodging a dismissal or redundancy payment claim within the time limit.
You should include here your wage, benefits, accommodation, medical insurance, pension contributions, company car, and memberships, among others. This would be of much aid when deciding how much you should receive in terms of compensation and awards if the decision were favourable.
If you earned variable weekly earnings, you wouldn’t need to elaborate on how much you received each week. You’d only have to calculate the average from the last 12 weeks of your contract.
What Has Happened Since the Employment Ended
This will help establish how much the judge would have to calculate in loss of earnings. If you got a new job, you should state whether or not it’s temporary, though this section won’t allow you to give further information on this (you could provide this information in a later section – see below.)
Type of Claim and Details
This is the focal point of the claim in which you’ll describe the events that prompted you to make a claim and the legal right you’re trying to get enforced.
Some examples of claims you can make include:
- Owed wages: You should relate whether your employer made unlawful deductions, didn’t pay, or paid at the wrong time and/or the wrong amount
- Owed holiday pay: Outline the start/end date of your holiday year, how much holiday you should get in a year, the holiday you accrued, how much holiday you took, and whether or not you had received any of the indebted holiday pay upon your departure
- Notice pay: Explain how much notice you were given, the payment you received for it (if any), and how much notice and notice pay you should have had instead.
- Unfair dismissal: Describe details such as the disciplinary procedure that was followed (or lack thereof), whether you had the chance to defend yourself, what your employer said regarding your dismissal, whether you received any written explanations from your employer, and why you think the reason for dismissal was unfair.
- Constructive dismissal: You should lay out information about your employer’s behaviour and why you found it objectionable enough to make you leave your job. If the behaviour was discriminatory, you should emphasise that, as it would be considered analogous to an automatically unfair reason for dismissal.
What You Should Get If the Claim Is Successful
You are free to leave this section blank, though it’s always helpful to place your demands here if you wish. Moreover, you can give further details here about your current employment status and if your current job is temporary for the purposes of compensation for loss of earnings.
Your Representative’s Details
If a representative accompanies you, write down their details in this section. The tribunal shall send all correspondence to them, and it’s their responsibility to forward it all to you.
In the event that you have no representative, the judge should be capable of assisting you without taking your side in the debates.
In this final section, you could:
- Ask for extra help due to disability (e.g., an interpreter if you’re deaf)
- Ask the tribunal to schedule hearings at a different time if you’re away on holiday, have a medical appointment, or are expecting a child
- Clarify how you were unable to determine the exact amounts because you didn’t have immediate access to wage slips and similar documentation (if that were the case)
- Express doubts about the exactness of the employer’s identity (if applicable)
- Point out if you’ve got a temporary job (in case of unfair dismissal) and the time you expect it to last
Avoid using this section to discuss anything related to the events or actions that motivated the claim. This should be explained in the corresponding section.
Amendments to Your Claim Form
If you file your claim within the time limit, you won’t have to ask permission from the tribunal to change it or add another claim.
To give an example, you can add a discrimination claim to an already-filed dismissal claim if you find additional evidence along the way. Additionally, you can try raising the grievance first before adding it to your original claim, provided it’s all done within the stipulated timeframe.
If you wish to amend your claim form beyond the time limits, write to the tribunal to let them know. If the changes are small, you can ask them to make the amendment for you. You should seek the tribunal’s authorisation if the changes are more significant (such as adding a new claim).
Your employer must agree to any amendments you make before a hearing. If that were the case, you’d have to assume the costs of a delayed hearing.
To add more respondents to your claim, you’d have to get an early conciliation certificate for them beforehand.
After Making the Claim
The respondent will have 28 days after receiving your claim form to reply. Once they’ve answered, the tribunal will decide if there will be a full hearing. If not, they will decide directly on your case without you needing to attend any hearing (if there is no reply).
In the preliminary hearing, the judge will decide (with your feedback) whether your claim or part of it can move forward and, if so, the date and estimated duration of the hearing.
In the course of the procedure, you can ask the respondent to provide documents that could help your case. Likewise, the respondent could request records in your possession. These documents include pay slips, notes from past meetings, or the contract of employment, among others.
Witnesses and the Tribunal Hearing
You can bring witnesses to the hearing as further evidence in your favour. If a witness refuses to go, you may ask the judge to issue an order for them to come. To do so, you should write to the tribunal office that handles your case, detailing the following:
- The name and address of the witness
- The relevance the witness has in your case and what they may say in your favour
- The reasons they gave for refusing to attend
You can ask the tribunal permission for your witness to send live video or audio evidence, especially if they’re abroad and can’t be physically present at the tribunal hearing.
Tribunal Hearing and Decision
The hearing can take place in person or by phone/video call. You must carry all your supporting documentation with you, and you may optionally bring a colleague or companion to the in-person hearing or to lend support during the online meeting.
You’ll be expected to answer questions from the judge, the respondent, or other tribunal members.
The decision could take place at the hearing. However, depending on the case’s complexity, it could take a few days or weeks before the judge issues a ruling. A copy of the verdict will be sent by post regardless.
Reconsideration and Appeal
If the tribunal rules against you, you can ask the same tribunal to reconsider their decision within 14 days of being notified. You’d have to ground your petition on solid reasons, such as,
- A serious error when judging the facts or interpreting the law
- The emergence of new evidence that was not available at the time of the ruling
- Your impossibility of attending the hearing due to reasons beyond your control or because you were not notified about it
You can also lodge an appeal before the Employment Appeal Tribunal, but only if the original tribunal made a legal mistake when deciding, such as:
- Errors when applying or interpreting the law
- Blunders in the procedure that affected the final result
- Lack of supporting evidence to ground the decision
- Unfair bias towards the winning party
You have 42 days to appeal the original decision. You could try appealing at a later date, but you must have a good reason for the EAT to extend the deadline.
How We Can Help You
Making an employment tribunal claim can be a very tricky ordeal, especially for complex situations that require dissecting multiple events over a long time span.
Our legal team has the necessary pedigree and experience to usher you in the right direction when faced with a plethora of employment controversies. We can help you lodge a successful employment tribunal claim for (among others):
- Unfair and constructive dismissals
- Redundancy payments
- Unfair wage deductions or unpaid wages/benefits
- Unequal pay, discrimination, harassment, and victimisation
To find out more about our services, call our telephone number 0333 305 9375. We are eager to speak with you about your possible options.
You don’t need to pay any fees in order to make an employment tribunal claim. Employment tribunal fees were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court in 2017.
In the best-case scenario, a tribunal process could take around six months. Unfortunately, employment tribunals in most areas have been coping with high demand during the past few years, affecting response rates considerably. To illustrate, the Ministry of Justice’s most recent data from 2020-2021 showed an average of 48 weeks before the first hearing is even held.
For this reason, it’s always advised to try to make extrajudicial arrangements for workplace disputes and only make a claim as a last resort. You can get in touch with us today on 0333 305 9375 to discuss your options.
There must be a strong underlying reason for the dismissal beyond the mere fact of making a tribunal claim, even when you lose. Otherwise, the dismissal would be unlawful, and you can claim unfair dismissal.