Employment Tribunal Claims Solicitors
If you have been treated unlawfully by your employer, former employer or a potential employer, making a claim to an employment tribunal may be necessary in obtaining recompense for such treatment. Our employment lawyers are highly experienced with employment tribunals, so can guide you through every stage of making a claim.
We recognise that making a claim to an employment tribunal can be confusing and intimidating and that this may be the first time you have ever been involved in a legal dispute. Our approachable, expert employment law solicitors offer clear guidance in plain English, making sure you understand your rights and how the claims process works.
We will provide you with commercial and pragmatic solutions where possible.
We will attempt to secure a fair settlement for you without the need for you to attend an employment tribunal hearing.
Our team have strong experience with representing individuals at employment tribunals, so where alternative options are unsuccessful, we can give you the best possible chance of securing a positive outcome for your claim.
Who can make a claim to an employment tribunal?
You may have grounds for an employment tribunal claim if you have been treated unlawfully, unfairly or wrongfully by an organisation in relation to your employment.
It may be possible to claim against your current employer, former employer or a potential employer, as well as against employment-related organisations, such as trade unions and persons employed by an employer or organisation.
Examples of the types of potentially claims you can bring in an employment claim are:
- unfair, wrongful and constructive dismissal
- sex, race, disability, age, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief and sexual orientation discrimination
- breach of contract
How long do you have to make an employment tribunal claim?
Generally, claims must be received by an employment tribunal within 3 months of the complaining act (i.e. 3 months less one day). However, this can be extended by Acas early conciliation by up to 1 calendar month plus a further 14 days if the parties agree.
The exceptions are claims for a redundancy payment, equal pay and unfair dismissal for taking part in official industrial action and unlawful exclusion/expulsion from a union which are all within 6 months and a claim for unlawful infringement of human rights by a public body, which is within 1 year.
These time limits are strict and even if the claim is received by an employment tribunal a day late, the employment tribunal may decide that it cannot hear such a claim. The employment tribunal will decide whether it was either “reasonably practicable” for the claim to have been presented in time or whether it is “just and equitable” to extend time. Each test is based on the type of claim presented to a tribunal.
Claims of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and breach of contract cannot be started until the employee’s employment has effectively ended. The exception to the rule is where an employee is employed during his/her notice period and in a redundancy situation where terms and conditions of employment have fundamentally changed.
What is Acas early conciliation?
In most cases, before you can present a claim to an employment tribunal, you must first make an early conciliation notification to Acas, unless there is an exception (e.g. if you are part of group of people making a claim against the same Respondent and one person has already made a request to Acas in the same dispute).
In order to commence Acas early conciliation, you must complete an online Early Conciliation Notification form. After the form has been submitted, it will be automatically acknowledged, by email if the individual has an email account, or by post if not.
Acas will then aim to contact you within 2 working days. The conciliation officer will talk to you (or someone on your behalf e.g. a solicitor) to see if your dispute can be settled without having to present a claim to an employment tribunal.
If a settlement cannot be reached, or the parties do not want to engage in any settlement discussions, the conciliation officer will issue a certificate with a unique reference number, which will allow you to bring an employment tribunal claim.
How do you make an employment tribunal claim?
The Employment Tribunal (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013 set out the rules and procedures, which govern ETs.
If you bring a claim against your employer you will be called the Claimant. The employer defending the claim will be called the Respondent.
To start proceedings in an employment tribunal, you must complete a Claim Form (ET1). The ET1 form can be obtained from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service website and must be completed in full. An ET1 is normally submitted online.
What happens after a claim has been accepted by an employment tribunal?
Once an employment tribunal receives a claim, a tribunal will either accept it or reject it. An employment tribunal can reject a claim if you:
- do not use the prescribed ET1
- fail to provide the minimum information in the ET1
- fail to provide the Acas unique reference number
- provide an ET1 but there are substantive defects e.g. if the tribunal does not have jurisdiction to determine a claim because you have not been employed by the Respondent continuously for 1 year.
If a claim is rejected, you can apply to the employment tribunal for a reconsideration if the decision to reject the claim was either wrong or the error can be rectified.
If the claim is accepted by the employment tribunal, it will inform you (or someone on your behalf e.g. a solicitor) of this and send a copy to the Respondent.
The Respondent will then have 28 days from receipt of the ET1 to defend the complaint(s). The Respondent must complete a Response Form (ET3) if it wishes to contest your claim.
The Respondent may apply for an extension of time within which to present its response explaining why it cannot comply with the time limit. You (or someone on your behalf e.g. a solicitor) may object to the Respondent’s application within 7 days of receiving it.
As with a claim, an employment judge may decide not to accept a Respondent’s response if the prescribed ET3 has not been used or it does not provide the required information or that it has been received out of time. In such case, the Respondent can apply to the employment tribunal for a reconsideration if the decision to reject the response was either wrong or the error can be rectified.
Where a Respondent does not present a response in time or decides not to contest a claim. An employment judge can make a judgment in your favour if there is sufficient material to do so. Otherwise a hearing will be fixed to determine the claim.
As soon as practicable after the employment tribunal receives an ET3, an employment judge will consider the ET1 and ET3 and will decide whether there are arguable complaints and defences. The employment judge may decide that the all or parts of either the ET1 or ET3 should be dismissed as the employment tribunal has no jurisdiction to consider it (ET1 only) or it has no reasonable prospects of success.
If the ET1 and ET3 are accepted, an employment judge will either give directions for the management of the case, together with time limits for compliance with those directions, or have the case listed for a preliminary hearing if the case has complex issues. The directions will normally involve disclosure of documents in the parties’ possession, details of the compensation which you are seeking with supporting documents, the preparation of a bundle of documents for the hearing, which the Respondent would normally do and the exchange of typed witness statements.
An ET will notify parties of a final hearing by way of a formal notice. The length of the final hearing will be dependent on the complexity of the issues and the number of witnesses giving evidence.
At the final hearing, the case will normally be heard by an employment judge (who is legally qualified and either a barrister or solicitor) alone. If the case is one of discrimination, in addition to an employment judge there will normally be two wing members: one will usually have a union background and the other member human resources background. Decisions are made between the employment judge and the two wing members. A decision does not have to unanimous and indeed the employment judge can be outvoted. In certain cases, an employment judge may sit alone (i.e. without wing members).
An ET may either on its own initiative or on the application of a party list the case for a preliminary hearing to determine certain preliminary issues.
What happens if the employment tribunal claim is successfully?
If you are successful at the final hearing, an employment tribunal can make financial awards (dependant on the complaint) as follows:
- compensation i.e. the amount claimed e.g. non-payment of wages
- a compensatory award (unfair dismissal cases only): loss of wages after dismissal, including pension contributions and/or unpaid wages and/or failure to pay notice money
- a basic award (unfair dismissal cases only)
- a statutory redundancy payment
- a protective award (in collective redundancy situations only)
- injury to feelings and interest (in discrimination cases only)
There is a statutory maximum amount on compensatory awards for unfair dismissal, which is the lower of 12 months’ pay or £86,444*. This is based on the employee’s losses after the deduction of income tax and National Insurance contributions to the date of the hearing and future losses (based on the length of time the employment tribunal decides it would take for the employee to be in the same financial position that s/he was in before the dismissal. In an unfair dismissal case, an employment tribunal will also make a basic award (based on the employee’s age and length of service), unless s/he has received a statutory redundancy payment, which is a maximum of £15,750* (and changes annually) *figures for 2019-2020
There is no upper limit on the compensation an employment tribunal can award in discrimination claims and in unfair dismissal claims if you were dismissed for raising a health and safety issue or making a protected disclosure.
In a successful claim of unfair dismissal, in addition to compensation, you can request that the employment tribunal order reinstatement or re-engagement, i.e. the same job or similar job with the Respondent. If a Respondent fails to comply with such an order, an employment tribunal may make an additional award of between 26 and 52 weeks’ pay. In relation to complaints of unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal and breach of contract a tribunal will expect you to have mitigated your loss. This means reducing your financial loss i.e. the steps taken to find alternative employment. This does not necessarily mean the same type of employment. At first, it may be reasonable for you to look for jobs on a similar salary and in a similar area to your old job. However, as time goes by, you will be expected to consider work, which may be less well paid, part-time or in a different area to the previous job.
You must show that you have mitigated your loss and will be expected to provide the employment tribunal with evidence that you have claimed Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance from the Benefits Agency and kept all paperwork in support of finding new work, such as: newspaper adverts; copies of any applications for jobs and rejection letters.
An employment tribunal can reduce awards for unfair dismissal if:
- it considers you have failed to mitigate your loss
- it considers that you contributed towards your dismissal by your conduct. This reduction can be up to 100%
- it finds the dismissal to procedurally unfair but concludes that if the Respondent had followed a fair procedure you would have been dismissed in any event
Can an employment tribunal award costs against the losing party?
An employment tribunal can also make an award of costs and expenses against either party and/or its representatives in certain circumstances to a maximum of £20,000 (e.g. acted unreasonably in pursuing or defending a claim).
If a party is unrepresented then a tribunal can make an award for preparation time, which is currently £38* per hour again to a maximum of £20,000. (*This figure increases by £1 each year on 6 April).
Our expertise with employment tribunal claims
Our Employment Law team have been advising individuals of all levels in relation to employment tribunal claims for decades. We are also highly experienced in alternative approaches to employment dispute resolution, including Acas early conciliation.
Over the years, we have built an exceptional track record of success in achieving favourable outcomes for our clients, including in relation to complex, high value and contentious employment tribunal claims.
IBB Solicitors is one of the South East’s top ranked legal firms for employment law, having secured Tier 1 ranking in the highly respected Legal 500 client guide. Marc Jones from our employment team has been individually recognised by the Legal 500 as a leading individual in the field of employment law.
Having specialised in employment law for over 20 years, Marc advises and represents individuals from a range of sectors and organisations. He has successfully acted for individuals against large multinationals, small to medium-sized enterprises, public sector bodies and charities.
As well as having extensive experience with Acas early conciliation, Marc is also a qualified workplace mediator, allowing him to offer mediation as a non-confrontational approach to quickly and cost-effectively resolution to workplace disputes.
Contact our employment tribunal solicitors today
IBB’s employment law specialists represent individuals at tribunals and deal with a range of issues including unfair dismissal, discrimination, whistleblowing, victimisation and more. If you feel that you have been treated unlawfully by your employer, we can offer fast, reliable guidance on whether you may be able to bring a claim against them and the prospects of success.
Contact our specialist employment tribunal claims solicitors on 03456 381381 or email your details to email@example.com and we will get back to you promptly.