Employment tribunals handle issues such as discrimination, wage disputes or unfair dismissal. Many people worry that making a claim will be a costly, drawn-out process; in reality, making a claim is free and the tribunal hearing will often only last a day. Although, with thousands of pounds at stake, hiring a specialist employment solicitor from Foys is a good idea. Before you make a claim, you will also have the chance to resolve the issue through conciliation.
The tribunal process
Any case relating to your employment rights can be taken to an employment tribunal. Employment tribunal cases can include but aren’t limited to:
- Unfair dismissal
- Wage disputes
- Breach of contract
Before making an employment tribunal claim, you need to contact the ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), who will offer free early conciliation to help settle the dispute without going to a tribunal hearing. This will not eat into the time you have to make a tribunal claim, so it’s worth taking advantage of the service. If you choose not to, you must have a good reason for doing so; the ET1 form used to make a claim to the employment tribunal will ask you for your early conciliation number.
Employment tribunal claims are free, and the ET1 form can be filled in online or printed out and sent by post. You don’t need to use legal jargon, but it’s best to seek assistance with filling it in from the employment law solicitors at Foys to make sure everything on the form is clear and relevant to the case. The deadline for making a claim is usually three months minus one day after the event your claim refers to. You must make sure the tribunal receives the form within the deadline, or it’s likely to be rejected.
Once your ET1 form has been received, the tribunal should send you a Notice of Acknowledgement. Your employer or former employer (known as ‘the respondent’) will have the chance to send in their own account, and a copy of this will be sent to you.
How long it takes to get a hearing depends on how busy the tribunal is and how complicated your case is. Your hearing date is likely to be at least four to six months after your form was submitted, and the hearing itself will only last a day.
At the tribunal hearing you will need to present your evidence, as will any of your witnesses. While you don’t need to represent yourself, you will need to answer questions from the judge and the respondent. Once the hearing is over, the decision can be given on the day or sent to you in the post.
If you win your employment tribunal claim, the respondent will be liable to pay compensation as well as your costs, including any costs for the time taken to prepare your claim and witness expenses. In some unfair dismissal cases, you may even get your job back. Your compensation will vary depending on the circumstances of the case, with some capped at a set maximum payout. As a reference, the average award for unfair dismissal in 2016/17 was £16,543, according to the Ministry of Justice’s statistics.
It may take some time to get your money, as your former employer will have 42 days to appeal. If they have appealed or are planning to appeal the decision, payment will be put on hold.
If you lose your case, you have 14 days to ask the tribunal to reconsider. To have your case reconsidered, you would need an acceptable reason – for example, there may be new evidence, or you weren’t told about the hearing.
While there is no fee for making an employment tribunal claim, you will usually have to cover your own costs if you lose your case. In some rare cases, a claimant will be asked to pay the other party’s costs as well. With the average cost to an employer of a tribunal claim being £3,700, you will want to avoid this.
Is it worth making a claim?
If you have a strong case, it’s always worth making an employment tribunal claim. Applying doesn’t cost anything, and the compensation you can receive is significant. The highest award in 2106/17 to a claimant for unfair dismissal in an employment tribunal was £1.7 million.
The main risk arising from making a claim is that you can be ordered to pay the respondent’s costs if you lose. This is most likely to happen if you fail to follow instructions given to you by the tribunal, or if you lie or provide misleading information. Having our solicitors on your side reduces the chance of making a costly mistake during the claims process.
Contact Foys Solicitors about your employment dispute
Even though it is possible to pursue an employment tribunal without representation, 86% of claimants were represented by a lawyer in 2016/17. With thousands of pounds at stake, it’s likely that the respondent will have their own legal representation.
You only have a limited amount of time to make your claim, so it’s best to seek help as soon as possible. At Foys Solicitors, we can help you collate evidence, make a claim and represent you at the tribunal. Our employment law team is experienced in handling tribunal claims and will guide you the whole way – so you don’t have to worry about the legal details.
If you’ve got a dispute with your current or former employer, contact Foys today for expert employment law advice. Your first consultation is completely free, so you have nothing to lose.
Get in touch using our Online Form – or call your local Foys Solicitors office:
- Doncaster – 01302 327 136
- Retford – 01777 703 100
- Worksop – 01909 500 511
- Clowne – 01246 810 050
- Rotherham – 01709 375 561
- Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
- Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609
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