These are difficult times and many employees are having to look to the Employment Tribunal to safeguard their employment rights. Obviously, we would hope anyone needing employment law help would contact us and you are very welcome to call us on 01522 440512 for a free consultation. However, whether you have instructed an Employment Solicitor, or you are representing yourself, we hope the information below about the Employment Tribunal process below is helpful.
If you are unhappy about how your employer has dealt with an issue at work, or you feel you have been treated unfairly, you should always try to engage your employer’s internal processes. That could be raising matters informally by having a discussion with Human Resources (HR) or a senior member of staff. Alternatively, it may be appropriate to start a formal grievance or appeal a decision that has been made. In any event, you should try and utilise any internal procedures available before considering a claim in the Employment Tribunal (but please be aware of time limits, see below).
Obviously, if the internal procedure resolves your problem, that is good news. If it does not, it may be time to consider whether you are able to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Before you go any further, stop. Gather all the information that is available to you that would assist in bringing a claim. If you have been through a redundancy process which you believe to be unfair, ensure you have all the correspondence sent and the minutes of the meeting. If you have been dismissed, ensure you have the written reasons for your dismissal. Ensure you have copies of any policies you would want to rely upon. If you do not have any of these documents, request them from your employer as soon as possible.
At this stage, it would be beneficial to seek legal advice for assistance in identifying any claims available to you and the prospect of your claim succeeding.
ACAS Early Conciliation
The next step is to inform ACAS that you intend to bring a claim against your employer. ACAS stands for Advisory, Conciliation, Arbitration Service. You have three months less one day of the incident you are complaining of, to notify ACAS of your claim by way of their Early Conciliation Service. For example, if you are dismissed on 22 September 2020, you will have until 21 December 2020 to notify ACAS. Time limits are very strict and you may lose your opportunity to claim if you delay.
You will be invited to take part in ACAS Early Conciliation as a way of resolving matters with your employer. If this is unsuccessful, ACAS will issue you an Early Conciliation Certificate with a certificate number. You will be required to quote your certificate number in order to submit your claim to the Employment Tribunal.
Once you have received your Early Conciliation Certificate, you will have at least one month to issue your claim in the Employment Tribunal. In some circumstances, you may have longer than one month to issue your claim, it is dependent on when you started early conciliation. However, as a general rule, always try to submit your claim within one month of the certificate to ensure there will be no issues.
For more information regarding time limits in the Employment Tribunal, visit our blog https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/time-limits-in-the-employment-tribunal/
Employment Tribunal Claim Form
To start a claim in the Employment Tribunal, you must submit a claim form, otherwise known as an ET1. A paper version of the claim form can be completed and sent to the relevant central office, or it can be completed and submitted online. You do not have to pay a fee or any charge to submit your claim. It is a free online process.
Once the claim form has been received by the Employment Tribunal, it will assign it a case number and send you an acknowledgement. You will also be advised as to where all future correspondence should be sent.
The Employment Tribunal will send a copy of your claim form to your employer who then has 28 days to respond to your claim and give their version of events by completing a form known as an ET3. You, or your representative, will be sent a copy of the ET3 by the Employment Tribunal.
Once your claim has commenced, an ACAS officer will be assigned to your claim. This is separate to the early conciliation process that you have already been through. You can use this ACAS officer to negotiate a settlement all the way up until a judgment is granted by the Employment Tribunal.
For more detail and information about how to prepare your Employment Tribunal claim form, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/employment-tribunal-claim-form/
Employment Tribunal Case Management Orders
Often, the Employment Tribunal will issue Case Management Orders to assist preparation and ensure the matter is ready for a final hearing. Case Management Orders often give time limits to comply with steps such as:
- providing a Schedule of Loss,
- disclosure of documents,
- creating a bundle,
- exchanging witness statements etc
You can also request Case Management Orders. For example, if you require any additional information or documents from your employer that have not previously been provided, you can ask for an order to compel your employer to provide them.
In addition to Case Management Orders, you will receive notification of a hearing date. Usually this notification will be for a final hearing, however the Employment Tribunal can request parties attend a Preliminary Hearing. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to discuss what needs to be done and whether any particular Case Management Orders need to be made.
Not all matters will have a Preliminary Hearing. They are usual in discrimination or whistleblowing claims. Also, they can be used where there is a particular issue which needs to be determined before the rest of the claim can proceed, for example a dispute about an employee’s continuous service in an unfair dismissal claim or a dispute about whether an employee is disabled in a disability discrimination claim.
For more detail and information about Preliminary Hearings at the Employment Tribunal, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/what-is-a-preliminary-hearing-in-the-employment-tribunal/
Witness Evidence, Documents and Bundle
Prior to the final hearing, you will need to prepare a trial bundle, which should be agreed with the other party to your claim. A trial bundle should contain all the documents that all parties intend to rely on and refer to at the hearing.
A party needs to know in advance what evidence the other party intends to rely on at the hearing and who that evidence is coming from. This information should be contained within a witness statement which should be typed in short numbered paragraphs and be in a logical order. It will usually have been agreed that parties will exchange the statements a certain number of days prior to the hearing. This may have been ordered in the Case Management letter.
For more detail and information about how to prepare your witness statements, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/employment-tribunal-witness-statements/
For more detail and information about how to prepare your bundle of documents, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/what-is-a-bundle-of-documents-in-the-employment-tribunal/
At the hearing, the Employment Tribunal will hear all evidence from both sides on the facts, liability, and the compensation you are seeking. Once the Employment Tribunal has heard all the evidence, it may either give its judgment there and then, or it may reserve judgment and write to the parties later.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome, there may be further steps available to you. You may be able to apply to the Employment Tribunal for reconsideration of the judgment, which must be done within 14 days. If you are still unsuccessful, you may be able to appeal the judgment which must be done within 42 days. Please be aware, these steps are only available in very limited circumstances. If you have not already done so, we suggest you seek legal advice before proceeding.
For more detail and information about Final Hearings at the Employment Tribunal, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/what-happens-at-an-employment-tribunal-hearing/
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
If you are bringing a claim and would like further guidance about the Employment Tribunal process, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01522 440512 for an initial free no obligation telephone conversation. Alternatively, for more information about Employment Tribunal claims, visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/employment-tribunal-claims/
Managing Director, Specialist Employment Solicitor
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