At Lincs Law Employment Solicitors we understand that most employees would prefer not to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal against their employer. In fact, most employees simply want to be treated fairly and have their employment rights respected. Very few people start work wanting to find themselves at the Employment Tribunal at some point in the future.
Unfortunately, if your relationship with your employer has gone sour and if all other avenues have failed; issuing your claim the Employment Tribunal may be the only way for you to clear your name, enforce your legal rights and obtain compensation for your employer’s failure to treat you fairly.
At Lincs Law Employment Solicitors we want to help. Therefore, we have set out below helpful information and assistance. If you would prefer to discuss your situation with a specialist, qualified, employment law solicitor, please call us on 01522 440512 for a free consultation.
Types of Employment Tribunal Claim
Most people know that claims for Unfair, Wrongful or Constructive Dismissal are pursued at the Employment Tribunal. However, what is less well known is that the Employment Tribunal will consider claims relating to the whole employment relationship from the first application to your employer all the way through to a resignation, redundancy or dismissal.
ACAS Early Conciliation Process
Before you can submit your claim to the Employment Tribunal, you must first lodge a form with ACAS to initiate their Early Conciliation Process. You will need to provide brief details about yourself and the background of your complaint against your employer. ACAS will then contact you about the process and seek your permission to contact your employer with a view to conciliating your matter.
Whilst lodging details of a potential Employment Tribunal claim with ACAS is compulsory, actually engaging in the process for you or your employer is voluntary. If either you or your employer notify ACAS that you do not want to conciliate, then ACAS will issue a certificate accordingly. The Employment Tribunal will not accept your claim unless you have have included your Early Conciliation Certificate Number on your claim form.
If you and your employer agree to engage with the conciliation process, then you will be allocated an ACAS Conciliator who will try and broker a conciliated agreement or settlement between you. There is an Early Conciliation Period of one month where this conciliation takes place. At the discretion of your ACAS Conciliator, this can be extended by a further two weeks. If at the end of the Early Conciliation Period (including any extension) it has not been possible to broker a conciliated agreement or settlement between you and your employer, you will be issued with an Early Conciliation Certificate Number. You can then decide whether you wish to pursue your claim before the Employment Tribunal.
If you and your employer do reach an agreement as part of the Early Conciliation Process, then your ACAS Conciliator will record the agreement on an ACAS Settlement Form (COT3). Both you and your employer will be required to sign the form. The ACAS Settlement Form is a legally binding and enforceable agreement between you and your employer and will usually bring your dispute to an end.
The ACAS Early Conciliation process is free; ACAS do not charge to use the process or for the assistance of your ACAS Conciliator. You can instruct LincsLaw Solicitors to undertake negotiations within this process for you, and we would be happy to do so. Alternatively, you can engage with your ACAS Conciliator yourself. If it is your intention to represent yourself in the ACAS Early Conciliation process then we would suggest that you take legal advice on your employment dispute and the value of any potential Employment Tribunal claim. This will enable you to negotiate from a position of strength and knowledge.
Just call 01522 440512 for a free, no obligation, telephone consultation with a specialist Employment Solicitor.
Employment Tribunal Time Limits
Time limits at the Employment Tribunal are extremely short and many employees with legitimate disputes have found themselves barred from bringing their claim because they were out of time.
As a general rule, you must submit your claim to the Employment Tribunal within three months of the act, omission or incident your claim is about. For claims about redundancy or dismissal, this is usually fairly easy to calculate as you use the last day of your employment as the first day when calculating the time limit. For example, if your last day of employment was 30th June, your claim would need to be submitted to the Employment Tribunal on or before 29th September.
It is sometimes more difficult to work out your time limit for cases where there has been discrimination or where the claim is about an employer’s failure to act. In those circumstances, please contact us for a discussion about the time limit to bring a claim as we will need to know the full circumstances.
However, please note, these time limits can be extended if you are going through the ACAS Early Conciliation Process when your Employment Tribunal time limit would normally expire.
Claims submitted “out of time” will not be accepted by the Employment Tribunal and in those circumstances your ability to pursue your claim will be lost. It is therefore important that if you have a workplace concern or issue, you take legal advice as soon as possible. For a free, no obligation telephone consultation with a specialist Employment Solicitor, please call 01522 440512.
Employment Tribunal Process
Whether you are representing yourself or whether you have someone helping you, the Employment Tribunal Process can be daunting. To properly prepare yourself you need to understand how an Employment Tribunal claim will progress and move forward. Obviously, we would hope that any person submitting or defending a claim at the Employment Tribunal would first contact us at Lincs Law Employment Solicitors for help. However, for those who have decided to go it alone, we hope the guidance below is helpful.
Step 1: Employment Tribunal Claim Form ET1
An ET1 Claim Form is the way most people will start their claim to the Employment Tribunal. Essentially, it is best to fill in the online ET1 Form available on the Employment Tribunal website. You can also download and print a copy of the form if you would prefer. However, the online ET1 Form gives you certainty about when a claim has been received by the Employment Tribunal. This could be important if there is a dispute about time limits.
The claim form is a very important document. Within the form you will need to give basic information about yourself and your employer (and/or anyone else your claim is against). You will also have to set out a brief summary of what has happened and then explain to the Employment Tribunal what you believe your claims are.
The Employment Tribunal do not charge a fee for you to submit your claim.
Step 2: Acceptance of Employment Tribunal claim
Once the Employment Tribunal receive your ET1, they will undertake a sift Procedure to ensure that they have jurisdiction to hear the claims you have submitted. As part of that Procedure, they will check you have correctly completed the form, check you have a valid ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate and, also, that the claims you are submitting are in time.
Assuming there are no problems with your claim form, it will be accepted by the Employment Tribunal and they will send a copy to the Respondents (being your employer and/or anyone else your claim is against).
Step 3: Employment Tribunal Response Form ET3
When the Respondents receive your claim form, they will have 28 days to submit an ET3 Response Form to the Employment Tribunal. In that form, they will have to set out some basic information about themselves. Also, they will need to explain whether they accept or defend the claims. If they chose to defend them, they should explain how and why.
Step 4: Employment Tribunal Case Management Orders
To ensure the claim runs smoothly and that all documentation, witness statements etc are ready for the final hearing, the Employment Tribunal will usually make a number of orders which the parties must comply with. The orders will state what each party has to do and by when. For example, orders are usually made for things such as: –
1. Providing a Schedule of Losses/valuation of the claim.
2. Exchanging relevant documentary evidence.
3. Creating a bundle of documents for use at the Final Hearing.
4. Exchanging statements from relevant witnesses.
Step 5: Employment Tribunal Preliminary Hearing
For claims that are not straightforward, for example, discrimination matters, the Employment Tribunal sometimes require the parties to attend a Preliminary Hearing. That hearing can be by telephone conference call or in person before an Employment Tribunal Judge.
At a Preliminary Hearing, the Employment Tribunal can agree with the parties the best way forward for the claim. For example, it could be that Case Management Orders similar to those above could be agreed with the Employment Tribunal Judge and the parties at a hearing. It could be a hearing is required to consider someone’s status as a disabled person. Also, Preliminary Hearings are sometimes used where there is a dispute whether the Employment Tribunal have jurisdiction to consider the claim (for example, where it is suggested the claim is “out of time”).
Preliminary Hearings are also used to clarify the claims and issues between the parties. If, for example, an ET1 Claim Form did not properly identify the claims, it may be necessary to clarify the situation with an Employment Tribunal Judge.
Step 6: Employment Tribunal Final Hearing
By the time you get to a Final Hearing, you will have received all the documents which are going to be referred to and the witness statements for those witnesses who will attend and give evidence.
The Employment Tribunal will hear all the witness evidence and review the documentation they are referred to in the bundle. They will then come to a decision and make a Judgement about whether they uphold or dismissal the Claimant’s claims.
If either party disagree with the decision, then they might apply for a reconsideration of the Judgement or, alternatively, appeal the Employment Tribunal’s decision depending on the circumstances.
Let Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You.
The Employment Tribunal process can be daunting and we want to help. Please call 01522 440512 for a free, no obligation, telephone consultation with a specialist Employment Law Solicitor.