Employment tribunals hear cases where discrimination and harassment, unfair deductions from pay, and unfair dismissal or redundancy are alleged by an employee.
Fellows and Members considering this remedy should be aware of the following:
- Prior to making a claim to the tribunal, you must inform the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) that you intend to do so. They will arrange an ‘Early Conciliation’ where attempts will be made to resolve the issue without the need for a tribunal hearing.
- All claims must be made within 3 months of the alleged incident. Early Conciliation proceedings, which can last up to 6 weeks, are not included in this, and ‘stop the clock’.
- There are two types of claim:
Type A: usually claims for sums of money due at the end of a period of employment
Type B: more complex claims such as unfair dismissal, discrimination etc.
- Type A claims cost £390, and Type B claims cost £1200. However, no further financial contributions are required of the claimant, even in defeat.
What happens at the hearing?
The claimant (or their legal advocate) presents the case against the employer to a judge, the employer’s representatives and other tribunal members. As the claimant, you may also be required to give evidence. The employer’s representatives will then present their defence against the allegations.
The judgement may be delivered on the day, or any time up to several weeks later.
Winning a case
The tribunal can demand that the employer pays you compensation, including any fees you paid to bring the claim. They can also be forced to change working conditions, and can reinstate you if the event of a successful claim of unfair dismissal.
Successful claimants can be awarded up to £74,200 for unfair dismissal, though the potential award for discrimination is unlimited.
Losing a case
Unsuccessful claimants can ask the tribunal to reconsider the judgement within 14 days, if there is new evidence, or if the hearing took place without your knowledge, or if the tribunal made a legal error. Claimants must pay a further fee at this point (£100 for Type A claims, £350 for Type B claims).
Claimants are not liable for costs or any other financial penalty, even in defeat.
Claimants who believe that a legal mistake was made, or who argue that evidence was not properly considered, can apply to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.