Employment Tribunals

The role of an employment tribunal is when you are unable to resolve a dispute with your employer. Here we discuss your entitlements if you win your claim and what happens should you lose.

What is an Employment Tribunal?

Employment tribunals hear cases where a dispute has arisen in the workplace between employee and employer and it cannot be resolved internally.

They are less formal than other kinds of court procedures but you do have to have to give evidence on oath and you can be prosecuted for perjury if you lie.

Cases are usually heard by a panel of three people – a legally qualified chairperson and two ‘lay members’. The lay members use their own employment experiences in judging the facts. Sometimes a chairperson may sit on their own, for example, to hear any legal arguments.

Do I Need to go to an Employment Tribunal and Will it Cost me?

Where possible, you should always try to resolve any work related disputes in work itself.

This might either be directly with your employer or perhaps via a union representative (if you’re a union member) or your HR department.

If that’s not possible, you should then contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or ACAS for specific advice and to find out if you have reasonable grounds for success. Initially, you should follow your Employer’s Grievance and disciplinary procedure as, in most cases, a tribunal will not consider your case unless you have followed the correct procedures internally first of all.

You need to establish that you are within the time limits as there is only a certain period between when the dispute took place and when a tribunal would consider your claim. In most cases, this is within 3 months of the incident occurring, although it can vary from case to case. There is no cost for making a claim at a tribunal unless you employ the services of a solicitor who will require payment.

How do I Start The Process?

You need to complete form ET1 which you can get from ACAS, an Employment Tribunal office or the Employment Tribunal’s website.

Alternatively, you can pick one up from your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau and a staff member will help you complete it. The form will give information about you, your employer and your complaint and it will confirm that you have followed your employer’s internal grievance procedure. If you are complaining of Unfair Dismissal, it is not necessary for you to have used the grievance procedure but your employer should have followed the correct disciplinary procedure.

You then have to send the form to the Employment Tribunal’s central office. They will send a copy to your employer who then has 28 days in which to respond.

Will my Claim Take Place?

The tribunal will review all the facts and check whether you can make a claim. If there’s any doubt, there will be a preliminary hearing, usually in front of the chairperson.

The tribunal can decide that your claim isn’t likely to succeed and can order a pre-hearing review to discuss the issue. If they think you’re unlikely to succeed, they can ask you for a deposit of up to £500 which you will lose if you do not win your claim.

If the case goes ahead, ‘case management discussions’ can be held. At this stage, the tribunal may want to ask you and/or your employer to provide them with further information in order to clarify any issues they may be uncertain about.

Can The Issue be Settled Before The Hearing Takes Place?

It’s important to remember that you may not win your claim so if you can resolve the issue satisfactorily before the hearing, it may be in your best interests to do so.

ACAS can offer free and impartial conciliation to both you and your employer which may result in an earlier resolution that satisfies both parties. The conciliation period is usually for a maximum period of 7 weeks for a wages dispute, 13 weeks for unfair dismissal and open-ended for discrimination claims.

What Happens at The Hearing?

The tribunal will let you know the date of the hearing. You do not have to appear in person but you must tell the tribunal if you want the hearing to take place in your absence.

In preparation, remember to take all documentation with you to the hearing in support of your claim and arrange it into date order to enable you to describe the series of events which led up to your claim in the order in which they occurred. If you’re going to use any documents, you must tell the other side (your employer or their representatives) and give them 7 days’ notice that you intend to do this.

At the hearing, you (or your representatives) and your employer both put your cases to the panel and answer questions. The panel then comes to a decision.

You are permitted to take witnesses to the hearing to provide evidence in support of your claim. If they refuse to go, the tribunal does have the power to order their attendance.

If you attend the hearing on your own, the panel will try to make things as clear and simple for you to understand as possible. The procedures are quite informal. Unlike other courts, tribunals don’t normally order any side to pay costs unless they decide you or your employer acted unreasonably in bringing the case or if any representatives at the hearing behaved unreasonably.

If You Win

The tribunal can order your employer to pay compensation costs which is unlimited for discrimination or dismissal on health and safety grounds.

However, it’s important to remember that a successful claim is not to punish the employer but to provide you with compensation for the loss of earnings for the time you have been off work. In other words, you don’t get awarded additional money for hurt feelings and you may have to try and reduce the loss of earnings by taking another job in the meantime or by seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance or another kind of benefit that might be appropriate. The tribunal can, in some dismissal cases, order your employer to give you your job back, providing you want it back.

If You Lose

You can ask the tribunal to review its decision, although grounds for this are limited. It’s also possible to appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal, which only considers points of law, so you can’t appeal if you think the tribunal simply got its facts wrong. In this case, you have the right to legal aid.

For more information and advice, you should contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or ACAS.

36 thoughts on “Employment Tribunals

  1. K says:

    My contact says I should be getting 40 hours per week but my company is giving me work 37.48 they have done this for 3 weeks now , so weather I have job available or not should I not get paid for 40 hours regardless.

  2. Cardoso says:

    Sorry I’m not coment but just only need some information about..how I’m call for sickness to my employer but they still put me in warning and they say maybe I will lose my job..thanks..

  3. NA says:

    If my place of employment is making me sick am I eligible for unemployment benefits? I started this new job on 3-5-18 and got sick on 4-19-18 and I am still sick. I have had bronchitis respiratory infections sinus infections and now have asthma. I am on 2 inhalers a day and several other medications. I saw my Allergist last Thursday 7-19-18 and was put on another antibiotic which is the third since May 2018 for sinus infection and constantly coughing. I have missed work for doctor appointments and medical tests and for. also some days just sick enough couldn’t go in. Honestly I don’t know how I am commuting and working a full day. I feel lousy fatigue exhausted and nauseous most days. The Allergist wrote a letter in my behalf stating I should not be working at my place of employment due to being constantly sick and have asthma She stated I won’t get better working there she can only treat my symptoms. I am waiting to hear from my primary doctor who started treating me first then asked for a referral to see the Allergist cause I am not getting better. The doctor wasn’t in when I called him last Friday to ask for his assistance Of him writing a letter also. I can’t quit I need to work and have an income. I am a widow my husband passed 2 yrs ago Can someone assist or answer my. Question regarding the unemployment benefits should I have to leave this new job?

  4. none says:

    I have a question I started a new job on March 5 2018 and got sick on April 17 2018 and I am still sick. I started with my primary physician then went to see my Allergist for treatment. I have allergies to mold dust dustmites. Between my primary & allergist I have been on 2 rounds of prednisone now 3 rounds antibiotics just started another last Friday 7/20/18. I saw Allergist she wrote letter in my behalf stating I should not work at my place of employment since I am still sick after 10 wks continue to be have had sinus infections bronchitis and now asthma. I am on 2 inhalers a day nasal spray saline spray eye drops for dry eyes codiene cough medicine for at night to sleep foricet Excedrin migraine Advil Tylenol depending on the severity of the headache. I have several medical test for sinus respiratory infections and have spent several dollars on doctor visits and prescriptions that are expensive and lost wages due to being out sick or leaving early to make a doctor appointment. My question is if I quit this job am I eligible for unemployment wages? I am a recent widow have to work need to recover and get well again. I have spoken to staffing Recruitors and the stated I have to stop coughing and get well before I can be sent on an interview. The Allergist stayed last week I will not get better she can treat the symptoms but I will continues to be ill working here. For explained I should also get a letter from my primary doctor than meet with my employer to see if they would lay me off my primary wrote a for an air purifier weeks ago that I finally received this week he also told me to request to be moved again to another office without carpet the carpet onynofgice is dirty and stained. I was moved on June 4 2018 because I couystpp coughing my eyes were dry and sore they wanted me to move back to that office cause there is no carpet I said NO that is were my sickness started. Outside the office door this past month there was been a plastic bin in hall collecting water that is leaking from the ceiling. I am waiting to hear back from my primary doctor he was out last Friday. I stayed home last Friday 7/20/18 due to severe migraine and vomiting from coughing constantly. I have vomited at work also because of coughing so much. I feel lousy nauseous and exhausted most days and really don’t know how I am commuting and working a full 8 hour day. I can’t quit or I will lose my house without any income coming in. What can I do?? Please respond to me with some advice when you can. Thank you for your assistance. Eve Meegan. 978-866-6760. MAT

  5. Jerez says:

    I’ve submitted an ET1 and believe that the 28 day respondent notice ended a week ago. Who would make me aware of the ET3 ?, if one was submitted ,as I’ve not heard from ACAS nor the tribunal team regarding my employers response. Also, the company has not upheld my disability discrimination grievance, so I replied with intent to appeal the decision – the request form was sent to HR who acknowledged the document but it’s been 2 weeks since hearing from them about the case being appointed to an investigation manager for the purposes of the appeal.Thanks

  6. MM85 says:

    I’ve been off work since September 2017, recently December I had major spinal surgery which takes at least one year to heal. I’ve had another spinal surgery back in 2015 I had 7 months of that time. I’ve recently been told that I can be sacked the minute I return to work. Ive a debilitating spinal condition that will not get better only worse with time. I’m worried to death now that when I go back after I’ve had time to heal I’ll be let go. I reduced my hours before I had my recent surgery right down to 3 hours a day and I’m very confident that I’m be able to perform the job role once I’ve taken the time I need to recover. What can I do if this does happen? And is it true that the company can let me go for a condition I have no control over?

  7. Asia says:

    Hi. In 2007 I have won case in tribunal against employers and I was awarded compensation. Unfortunately employers never paid in full and own me over £6000 as they disappear and sheriff court haven’t done much to help me. Is it to late to claim this money back or still something can be done about it?

  8. Cookie says:

    I have autism and currently taking my previous employer to court. I can’t afford a solicitor and have alot of evidence to back up the allegations made against me. However, as I was unaware there were problem throughout my employment till I got called into office for an unannounced investigation meeting, I have no other evidence of incidents except the list they created which was used in disciplinary to sack me. They accused me of bullying other staff by speaking abruptly yet this is a trait of my autism. The judge wants me to label which type of disability discrimination each incident is under. What’s my chances of winning? I have medical back up,audio recordings and a witness statement as well as their paperwork

  9. Gee says:

    I am employed to do assessment reports for a company at the bottom of a supply chain which involves interviewing people, examininng them and submitting reports the same day (I am a nurse). I have done this for just over 3 years and have always struggled to complete the reports within the timescale expected. Initially there was no set time limit but then this was changed to on the day submissions, preferably before seeing the next claimant by the people at the top of the supply chain and fines are given to my employers for late submissions. The pressure to adhere to same day submissions is always there and random audits are performed on submitted reports to check the standard, which adds to pressure to do good reports as again fines are incurred. Additional reading up of individuals submitted evidence and information is not given and there is no reception staff to meet and geeat individuals on arrival etc which has to be done within the timescale. My employer downsized offices and shortened times between interviews to accommodate staff levels telling me to take a computer home so they could be typed up there, they then partitioned off one of the offices so typing could be done at the back of a room but it was very distracting hearing the colleague doing another interview whilst typing own reports so I still went home to use computer. I now have frozen shoukder from excessive typing often 12 hours a day without extra pay. I tried reducing my hours but still end up typing on my days off which affects my shoukder/arm pain and sleep and decreases my income. I have complained – as has my colleague about difficulties achieving the timescale but our employers have several premises and are not local. Recent health and safety checks were failed at the premises and they were told to remove the partition as it made the room too small to which they responded by saying don’t worry about that we will say you use a different room. A few months later they removed it. My problem is I have been signed off sick to rest my arm but I will have to return or leave and I am over 60 so will struggle to get another job. I feel my employers have neglected my care by encouraging me to work excessive hours knowing I struggle – and this has caused me over 10 months of increasing pain and loss of range of movement in my right dominant arm. What can I do please? Other colleagues have left but they are younger. I have had some help to try to get quicker at reports from people higher up the chain supply and am told I do good reports. I can touch type and am not slow. I feel the work environment makes it harder – my employers are a firm of physiotherapists who share office space so time and space is limited to accommodate this.

  10. Jfs59 says:

    My employer reduced hours in my office in 2015 and again 2017. But still expect the same work load, which is very heavy at times. I am on sick leave with a condition that has been brought on with stress. Because of this my GP has given my employer some conditions to which need to be followed by my employer. They are refusing and offered for me to leave due to health reasons. I find this unfair as I have been there 21 years. What are my rights please help

  11. Mich says:

    I have a meeting with my employer due to my abscene in the last 6 months and on the letter that was giving to me to advise me of the meeting with the dates and reason why I was off. One of them dates and reason is because I had a work related injury which caused me to have time off can they use this against me when clearly it wasn’t my fault?

  12. unsure says:

    I work for a small company of only 4 people, I am the only lady here. My managing director thought it was ok to massage my shoulders a few weeks ago, I ignored him and he done it again about a week later. I moved out of the way that time. I have told the other 2 guys that work here about it and they thought it was funny, I asked them to try and not leave me alone with the managing director as much as they can they said ok. Last week I was on the phone to the pc repair people and had to do things on different pc’s at the same time, I had to connect my bosses pc to the guy on the phone and whilst I was doing that my boss grabbed my behind so I quickly moved out of his way but couldn’t say anything as I was on the phone. By the time I got off the phone he had gone into a meeting. Since then I have barely spoken to him, I am not comfortable being here anymore but am on good money and not sure I can find these hours anywhere else and have a family to support so can not just up and leave. What do I do?

  13. carfy says:

    hi if i had a work accident due to my boss ignorance as he send me to work in industrial machine without any training,so can i take him in court for a claim instead to deal with claiming company ?

  14. Babs says:

    Hi I need a little advice my company has made changes to our working week there are 4people working for a cleaning company on site I am the cleaning manager .They have just reduced our working weeks hours by 38hours ,they divided the loss hours between the for of us in the girt consultation .On the second consultation the made one person redundant but no one else was asked as three of us would have like to take redundancy as it was quite a large drop in hours but on going in for our second consultation we had been given a few of the redundant persons hours so still less than we started with but not enough of a drop for us to take our redundancy, we were also given his work to do as well .Can companies make a person redundant then spread there hours to stop you having yours

  15. Bob says:

    I started work part time with a local cleaning company hours were 20 hours per week, I had a few appointments with the hospital and I advised my Supervisor that I would be having a operation within the next few months. another month had passed and I was advised that I was going into hospital and informed my Supervisor and Company that I could be of sick for between 1 to 4 weeks and they said they had cover. As I only worked over 3 and half months I am aware that I would not be paid any sickness payments and that was not a problem. After 1 week I felt much better and went to see my Doctor about returning to work as the work is easy no heavy lifting I thought it would be alright to return to work. Imagine my surprise when I was informed by the Supervisor that my 20 hours had been given to someone else and if I wanted they would keep me on there books, with guarantee of actually getting any work I decided there was no point just staying on there books after all I won’t be working. I need to find out legally where I stand and what my options are.

  16. Dotty says:

    I work for a security firm and I suffered a mild stroke while I was in work since October I have been off the sick I’m due to return to work on the 28th December on light duties but my firm are supposed to give me a phase to work meeting but are refusing they just want me to return to work on light duties what rights do I have as an employee to ask for a meeting and are my company within there rights to refuse me a meeting and can I take them to a tribunal

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Dotty – The return to work interview is not compulsory but your employer does have a duty of care towards you, so it would be much better if they implement a return to work that is not detrimental to your health. If your GP/Consultant has suggested a phased return to work, then you can try and insist on this. Give ACAS a call on 0300 123 1100

  17. Ellie says:

    Hello! I have been working for an agency for 2 years as a temporary worker. One of the supervisor started to look at me and watch me in a different way, like a man to a woman. I love to smile to people because this is how I am, also I am very kind and nice talking, and perhaps this made him to watch me like this. I thought he really likes me , because he started to watch parts of my body what only just we women we have at work. Also he told me he will do anything for me, and I didn’t ask him nothing. Once I refused him by showing Im not in, he started to give different jobs, and hardest ones even I was trained for a better one. Then as a temporary worker, just started to have shift cancelled , and this made me to have hardest days for my living as a woman. Now he just got married with a woman with who he has a long relationship, but he still giving me hardest time at work, and trying to give me the worst jobs. I am a good worker, I love to work, and I am a hard worker, but also I am a human and woman and I have days like everyone when at my work it needs to understand a person , anyone can be a man also can’t work just what is the most hard work. This is a warehouse, and I would like to ask you your advice ! Kind Regards ! Ellie

  18. Lou says:

    My dad is a hgv driver, 3 weeks ago he went off work sick in this time he had a mini stroke, been told he can’t drive hgv for 12 months and a car for 4 weeks, he gave his boss a new sick note for 6 weeks, and his boss has said I’m going to have to lay you off with ill health,, so I made a claim for ESA, and the boss has been to see my dad at home, to say when you claim benefits make sure you tell them you have left work, my dad said I haven’t left you have laid me off and he got up and walked out,, my dad has holidays he hasn’t used,, my dads shocked with the whole situation,, can anyone advise me what to do, is this unfair dismissal or can his boss just lay him off like that, I’m at my wits end,, why did the boss keep the sick note when he has Laid my dad off,,

  19. Sam says:

    Hi. I started my employment with a company on 23rd of November 15 and was told it I would have my probation reviewed after 3 months. I finally had my review last week (5 months after) & felt it went okay with myself and the director and was told I’d have another review in 4 weeks to which I agreed. I feel My manager does not like me and makes me feel uncomfortable all of the time with his comments. They agreed my holiday and sent me on my way. The manager very cockily stated that he thought I was very lucky to still have my position in the company. Two days after my review I was invited into the into the office with the manager & the director and was handed a letter of termination due to taking my holiday during the launch of the new product ( to which they’d already agreed in the initially review) The director said that he’d pay me till the end of the month but I don’t feel that it was fair because he agreed to it already and if there was a problem he should of at least gave me a choice to cancel my holiday but didn’t mention anything. I feel it was a way out of sacking me for another reason as the manager has maybe influenced the director.Is this fair??

  20. T says:

    My previous employer did not make reasonable adjustments for my disability I was then told I need to move location because of my disability. I started the grievance procedure however the company took 3 months to give me a day for the grievance meeting. I am still able to take this to a tribunal or via any other court

    • Safe Workers says:

      @T – If you feel you have been discriminated against and your employer has not dealt with it effectively then yes, you should consider a tribunal. You have to contact ACAS before proceeding to the tribunal.

  21. Mary Millar says:

    My son is a Hgv driver class1 and 2 over a year ago he was put on bp medication.He did not notify his employer but recently his gp took him off the medication as it was OK.However it was necessary for him to undergo some blood tests to make sure he was OK.Being nightshift the test was arranged for 8 20 am appts being scarce.The night before the test his employer rearranged work schedule which meant there was a chance my son might not make the appointment .My son tried to explain this but employer became angry because he could not do the run and told my son not to come back until he had a letter from gp relating to hius fitness todrive.Had my son been prepared to not go to the blood test this wwould not have occurred and he has worked there for over 2 years without any absences.My son has learned from another driver that they intend to pay him off .Can his employer do this?

  22. Donald says:

    Can I have some advise started work last November but in August was rushed to hospital and it has been discovered I have heart problems after spending a week in hospital I have been signed off unfit for work until I see the consultant in December. I have been told not to drive or do any heavy lifting my firm have been paying me SSP but contacted me today and said they would like me to go to Derby (I live in London ) and carry out light duties until I am seen in December. I don’t want to go as I feel they are bullying me. My sick note says unfit to work can they make me go if I don’t go I think they will sack me.

  23. klouxx says:

    Hi i just need a little advice. I dont work but my fiance does due to me having severe crohns disease (most of my bowel removed) last year my partner had a lot of compassionate leave due me having an inflamed and enlarged gallbladder at the time i had a operation and doctor advised i needed someone to care for me as i would be in a lot of care he rang his employer and asked if he could use his holiday entitlement so he didnt lose money they said no so he took compassionate leave. They kicked off about it and was presuring my partner for proof of my gallbladder which i got a sick note then they want proof that i even had crohns. They wanted to pay for me to have a medical exam to see if i am ill. Which i said no. They put his bradford score to 1000. They then said they want proof from my doctor so i rang my doctor he said he wouldnt do that as they have no right to ask for that as i am not there employer and that they are being very unreasonable. So i gave them my tax credit award notice which states i have a disibility. Which was bot good enough they wanted it to state i have crohns. 2 weeks ago i was rushed to a&e due to having a bad blockage in my bowel which they wanted to operate on which i said no to as we couldnt afford my partner to have unpaid leave as coming up to Christmas so they discharged me even though i still had pain and was told i needed rest and a liquid diet. My partner had 2 days off and again they were saying they wanted proof so i rang my doctor and told him i really needed this proof so my doctor agreed this time but he said he wouldnt do it again as there not my employer. I feel so under preasure that if i get ill again my partner will be sacked. Im nothing to do with there company but i feel im being treated unfairly.

  24. Magrob says:

    I won my Employment Tribunal (ET) case for Disability Discrimination in 2013 and received an award of over £12k. My employer knowingly ignored an agreed reasonable adjustment before then placing me in a role without any reasonable adjustments whatsoever. They ignored my complaints and I was then hurt trying to accommodate their wishes to keep me in that role. The ET found them guilty of seven illegal acts of disability discrimination. Unfortunately, my condition did not improve – it deteriorated and after being on long term sick since October 2014, I applied for Ill Health Retirement, and after assessment retired in May 2015 rather than continue on Nil pay and be sacked for continued absence. I will have lost a lot of future earning by the time I reach state pension age in nine years-time. Am I able to pursue my ex-employer’s illegal actions in another court using my ET evidence and final decision as support? I have also joined a charity to raise awareness of my type of disability and am considering writing an article/s about when things go wrong in your employment – from making an initial complaint, the internal process, to taking the case to tribunal and even representing your own case. Are there any restrictions in the sharing of the ET case, its findings, decisions etc?

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Magrob – If as a result of the ET findings, your employer proceeded to make the necessary adjustments, then it’s unlikely you will be able to take this further via a separate tribunal/court case – although an employment lawyer may be able to tell you differently. As for publicising the findings, you should seek advice on that too, especially if you think the employer might take action for libel if you do.

  25. Moxy says:

    I have been suspended from work on allegations of sexual harassment although I believe that I am actually the victim having been threatened by the accusers boyfriend when I was working who told me he was going to make me lose my job. I believe he has made the woman make the accusation and force her to go as far as getting a solicitor involved threatening a tribunal after reading some Facebook messages and becoming very jealous. I have a disciplinary meeting with my HR department soon. I have written everything down I can think of in my defence. Any other advice please?

  26. Faye says:

    A fellow employee was harrassing me sexually and verbally. I made this known to the manager and it continued. I took it higher and nothing was done till the said colleague prevented me from gaining entrance into the work premises as he was the security man. I was suspended from work with full pay despite my complaints and the management deliberately missed my two week wage without explanation. Please advice

  27. bluebird71 says:

    I’ve been working for this company for 6 years now and the last 2 and a half years I’ve been working from 2am till 10. But I’ve never been paid night rate. My contract when I first started stated any hours worked after 10pm should be paid time and a third up until 7am. But I’ve never been paid this money. I have asked a few times about it but I get fobbed off with an excuse. It’s my fault for doing the shift as no one wanted to do it. Is there anything I can do to claim the money back owed

    • Safe Workers says:

      @Bluebird71 – Yes this is a breach of contract on your employer’s part. First, talk to your employer and let them know that you are going to take further action, this may prompt them to rectify the situation. If that doesn’t work, follow your company’s complaints procedure – your HR department will be able to provide you with a copy if you don’t have one. If this cannot be resolved “in house” you can take your employer to an Employment Tribunal.

  28. what should i do says:

    I had worked for a small company with only 7 people in which within 2 years 3 people had been signed off work for stress. Is there any merits for a claim against the employer for a failure of the health and safety of its employees? I’m concerned for the remaining people still working there.

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