With over 4,000 cases going to tribunals every year in the UK according to the CIPD, you may be wondering what an employment tribunal is, and what happens if you find yourself in one.
An employment tribunal is a legal body that hears cases relating to employment law. This includes claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay, and more.
If you feel like you have been treated unfairly at work and want to take action, an employment tribunal is one avenue you can explore.
If you’re taking your employer to a tribunal, it’s important to understand what will happen on the day.
The parties will submit their case, witnesses may be called, and a decision will be made. A tribunal is not like a criminal court, so there is no jury. An Employment Judge will hear the case and make a decision. Both sides will have the opportunity to submit evidence and call witnesses.
To get a better understanding of what happens at an employment tribunal, let’s start by finding out a little more about what a tribunal is and what happens.
What is an employment tribunal?
An employment tribunal is a special court that deals with disputes between employees and employers.
Employment tribunals are informal hearings where witnesses give evidence.
The decisions made by employment tribunals are also not binding precedents, so they cannot be used to set legal precedents in the future.
In a nutshell, this means that what happens at an employment tribunal in the UK can help to shape the law, but it is not set in stone.
Employment tribunals are free to use as there is no application fee.
If you feel you need guidance on whether an employment tribunal is the correct route for you, then contact us here at Robertsons Solicitors for advice on whether you should proceed down this route. As well as how to navigate the process and legal representation through the process.
How long does a tribunal take?
The length of an employment tribunal can vary depending on the complexity of the case.
Some hearings may only last a few hours, while others may take place over several days. More complex cases may take longer to resolve.
What is the process for bringing a claim to an employment tribunal?
The first step in an employment tribunal is usually a conciliation meeting with ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).
This is a free service that can help to resolve workplace disputes without the need for a tribunal.
If conciliation is not successful, the next step is to submit a claim form to the Employment Tribunal Office.
This must be done, depending on the type of claim, within three months of the date of the incident or problem that leads to an employment concern.
This can be done online, by post or in person.
What is The Employment Tribunal Service?
The Employment Tribunal Service is a government body that helps people resolve employment disputes.
They can provide information about the tribunal process, help you fill in forms and give you general advice about your case.
You can contact the Employment Tribunal Service by:
- Calling their helpline on 0800 0234 567
- Visiting their website
- Emailing them at email@example.com
If you are in Wales you can find out more from:
Cardiff Employment Tribunal, Tresillian Terrace, Cardiff, CF10 5BH
Tel: 029 2047 2300
You can also get free advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau or trade union.
What happens next?
The Employment Tribunal will send you and your employer a ‘listing questionnaire’. They will ask for information about your case, such as what the problem is and what you want the tribunal to do about it.
If you’re thinking about taking your case to an employment tribunal, it’s important to get expert advice from a solicitor who specialises in this area of law.
They’ll be able to advise you on the chances of success and what you can expect from the tribunal process.
Once a claim form has been submitted, the employment tribunal will send out what is called an ‘ET1’ form to the employer.
This sets out the details of the claim and what the employee is alleging.
The employer then has 28 days to respond with their ET3 form. This is the defence against the claim.
The employer then has 28 days to respond with their ET3 form which will the tribunal details of their defence.
What happens if there is no response from a claim form?
If the respondent does not respond, or if they do not dispute the claim, the tribunal will issue a judgment in favour of the claimant.
If the respondent does dispute the claim, the tribunal will set a date for a hearing. The hearing is usually held within 4-6 weeks of the initial claim being submitted.
If the tribunal does decide to hear your case, they will give you and the other party a date for the full hearing.
You and your employer will then each have an opportunity to present your side of the story at the tribunal.
This may involve calling witnesses, presenting evidence, and cross-examining the other side.
What happens during the hearing?
The first thing that will happen is that both sides will be asked to give their names and addresses to the tribunal clerk.
Once both parties have been identified, the tribunal will decide whether the case can be heard in private or in public.
If the case is to be heard in public, anyone will be able to sit in on the hearing.
However, if the case is to be heard in private, only the people involved in the case and their witnesses will be allowed into the room.
Once everyone is seated, the tribunal will start by asking the claimant to state their case.
The claimant will have the opportunity to present their evidence and call witnesses.
Once the claimant has finished, the respondent will be given the chance to do the same.
After both sides have had their say, the tribunal will retire to consider its verdict. The decision will be based on the evidence that was presented during the hearing.
The tribunal makes a decision
After both sides have been heard, the tribunal will decide on the case.
If the decision is in your favour, the tribunal can order your employer to take action, such as paying you compensation or giving you your job back.
This is called an ‘order’ that the employer must follow. If the employer does not follow the order, they can be fined.
The amount of compensation you’ll receive will depend on the severity of the breach of contract or discrimination that you’ve experienced.
If the tribunal is in favour of the respondent, the claimant (will not receive any compensation or other remedy.
The tribunal’s decision is binding on both parties and can be appealed to a higher court.
If you’re thinking of bringing a claim to an employment tribunal In Cardiff or anywhere else in the U.K, it’s important to get advice from a solicitor or another qualified legal advisor. They’ll be able to advise you on the chances of success and help you prepare your case.
Our expert legal team based in South Wales has a wealth of experience in representing employees at employment tribunals.
We can advise you on the best course of action and help you to get the compensation you deserve.
Get in touch with us today to find out more.