It is thought that the rising number of employment tribunal cases have been the result of the increase in unemployment and altered working conditions brought on by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MoJ has said. It is also projected that when the furlough scheme is set to end in September 2021, there will be a further steep rise in cases, with the likelihood of employers making redundancy considerations over the next few months.
In this article, we look at some of the most Frequently Asked Questions regarding Employment Tribunals and the first stages of making a claim.
What is an Employment Tribunal?
If an employee is in dispute with their employer, on matters such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, redundancy, equal pay, and unlawful deductions of wages, Employment Tribunals which are a type of law court, will make decisions to resolve these employment law disputes. They decide what, if any, financial compensation an employee should receive from their employer in regards to their claim for any breach of their working rights. It is always advisable to try to resolve your workplace dispute, either through raising the problem informally, with your manager or HR representative for example or by raising a formal grievance dependant on the situation.
How do you start an Employment Tribunal Claim?
In most cases, the first stage of making a claim to an Employment Tribunal will be to get in touch with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to begin mandatory ‘Acas Pre-Claim Conciliation’, also known as ‘early conciliation. To start the Acas process, you will need to visit the Acas website and fill in a Pre-Claim Conciliation form.
What is Early Conciliation?
When you inform Acas of your intention to make a claim, you will be offered ‘early conciliation’ which is when Acas will try to help you reach an agreement with your employer before you make a tribunal claim. This process is called early conciliation. Acas is a government-funded body whose job is to help with this process in workplace disputes and there is no charge to use the service.
After early conciliation, you’ll get either:
an ‘early conciliation certificate’ if you couldn’t come to an agreement or didn’t want to try – you’ll then be able to go to a tribunal
a COT3 agreement – a legal agreement that you and your employer have to stick to
Is there a time limit to make an Employment Tribunal Claim?
Yes, you must start early conciliation within 3 months less 1 day from the date of the dispute you are complaining about. If you are claiming statutory redundancy pay or equal pay, the deadline is 6 months less 1 day.
Early conciliation lasts up to 6 weeks and if early conciliation doesn’t lead to an agreement, you’ll always have at least 1 month after it ends to make your claim to a tribunal. Sometimes, you’ll have more than 1 month because starting early conciliation extends the deadline for making a claim.
ET1 Employment Tribunal Claim Form
Once you have completed the early conciliation process and received your Acas certificate, you will need to complete an ET1 form, which must be completed and submitted to the employment tribunal in order to make a valid claim.
What happens in an Employment Tribunal?
An Employment Tribunal is chaired by a lawyer and made up of two independent ‘wing’ members with experience of employment relations. It is up to the tribunal to:
weigh up the evidence
consider the law
decide whether your claim against your employer is justified.
In doing this the tribunal may also consider:
what policies or procedures your employer has for dealing with the problems at word;
your behaviour and your employer’s behaviour throughout the time you were employed; and
what steps you and your employer have already taken to solve this problem.
Tribunal Hearings are usually completed within a day. Decisions are made by majority vote and most are announced straight away. If the tribunal decides in your favour, it has the power to award you compensation. If you are claiming unfair dismissal, it can sometimes order your employer to give you your job back, though this is rare.
Employment law tribunal Solicitors
In most cases, going straight to an Employment Tribunal should be a last resort in your attempt to resolve a dispute with your employer. However, our specialist employment law team can advise you on your rights and the appropriate course of action for your situation. We help you with every stage of your claim, and employment law matters, including:
Advising you on your internal grievance procedure
Guiding you through the ACAS early conciliation process
Taking your claim to the Employment Tribunal.
Negotiate a settlement agreement and severance package with your employer should your position become untenable.
The last 10 years or so have seen the introduction of numerous regulations which influence the employer-employee relationship and as our methods of working change, we will undoubtedly see more. We pursue and defend claims on behalf of both employers and employees and can provide advice and assistance with all aspects of employment law matters and disputes.
This blog post is not intended to be taken as advice or acted upon. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our team of solicitors