If you have a problem at work or with a former employer, and you’ve been unable to resolve the situation internally with HR or a manager, you may want to take your employer to a tribunal.
To take your employer to a tribunal, you should:
- Contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to notify them of your claim.
- Fill out an ET1 employment tribunal form and submit it to the Central Office of Employment Tribunals.
- Wait for notification and to be sent your employer’s completed ET3 form.
- Prepare your case, potentially using the help of a solicitor.
- Attend the tribunal on the given date. You may choose to have legal representation also.
For personalised advice and guidance about employment tribunals, consider talking to a solicitor who specialises in employment law. Contact First4lawyers today, and we will look at putting you in touch with a lawyer who has experience in these cases, so you can be certain of the best guidance available.
Before you start an employment tribunal claim
There are a few important factors to remember before you start the employment tribunal process to make sure your case runs smoothly – and to give yourself the best chance of success.
Generally, you should make a claim within three months of the incident you are claiming about. It’s rare that you can start a case older than that. Discuss your situation with a solicitor who will be able to tell you whether or not you can extend the deadline in your personal circumstances.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) can help to resolve your issue through early conciliation. This used to be a voluntary step, but now you must contact ACAS before starting a tribunal process.
They will offer you early conciliation, where you and the employer try to settle things before going to court. This can be helpful in cases such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, redundancy pay, unpaid wages, flexible working disputes, and similar situations. You don’t have to take early conciliation, but it may save you time and expense.
Starting an employment tribunal claim
To begin the tribunal process, you’ll need to fill in a ET1 claim form, available on the Ministry of Justice website. Alongside personal details, the ET1 asks you to write a statement about the claim you’re making.
This is the first document the tribunal panel will read when starting your case, so it’s essential you fill it out correctly and include all the right details. Remember to write your case professionally and only include important details – it’s understandable if you feel emotionally about the situation, but this shouldn’t be covered on the form.
Talk about events in the order they occurred. Sometimes it can be helpful to write these in bullet points. If you’ve printed the form out, consider practicing what you will write before putting it down on paper, as it’s difficult to add extra details later.
You can submit the form online, but if you choose to post it you need to make sure that it will arrive within the time limit. If the tribunal receives it outside of the limit, your case could be dismissed.
After you’ve sent the application
When you’ve submitted the request, you’ll receive a Notice of Acknowledgement. If a week or so has passed and you haven’t received the notice, contact the Central Office of Employment Tribunals to check if they have received it. If they haven’t, you’ll need to send another form to guarantee that you have applied in the time limit.
Once your claim has been processed, the office will notify the employer you’re claiming against. They can either choose to resolve the case outside of a tribunal, or agree to attend. If they agree, they’ll have to fill out an ET3 form to note their details around the situation, which you’ll receive a copy of.
After all of this, you’ll need to wait for your hearing date. How quickly a case will be seen depends on the claim, as well as how many claims the office is processing. As a rough guide, it can happen around six months after the application, but it can be sooner or later than this.
How much does an employment tribunal cost?
You have to pay two fees for an employment tribunal: a claim fee and a hearing fee. The amount will depend on the case, but as a general guideline, fees range from £160 to £950 for the most common claims.
There’s no way to avoid these costs, but anyone on a low income or receiving benefits may be able to get financial help.
Unlike a normal court case, you’re unlikely to have to pay for your employer’s fees if you lose the case. Whether you do is usually based on your behaviour during the tribunal hearing, or if the case was considered ‘hopeless’ to begin with.
Looking for more help with your employment tribunal?
As with any case taken before a panel and a judge, you will have the best chance of success if you’re accompanied with a professional who knows employment law.
Get in touch with First4lawyers, and you’ll be connected with a professional solicitor who can give you personalised advice at any stage of your tribunal process. To learn more about employment law, take a look at our guides to proving constructive dismissal, claiming unfair dismissal, and reporting bullying at work.
Note: First4lawyers offers this information as guidance, not advice. Before taking any action, you should seek professional assistance tailored to your personal circumstances and not rely on First4lawyers’ online information alone. All details correct at time of last update.
Last updated: October 2016