What is an Employment Tribunal?

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An employment tribunal deals with claims brough by employees.

An employment tribunal is the name of the tribunal that deals with employment related claims, such as claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, whistleblowing, and unlawful deduction of wages.

What does an Employment Tribunal do?

An Employment Tribunal deals with employment related claims by employees, and in some cases “workers”, against their employer.  It is a specialist type of court, with its own set of rules and procedures, which must be complied with.

What are grounds for an Employment Tribunal?

The grounds for an employment tribunal claim will depend on the circumstances and the type of claim in question.

For some claims, including unfair dismissal, you need to have two years’ continuous employment to be entitled to bring a claim.  Discrimination rights apply from day one of employment though. It’s not possible in the space available here to describe every potential claim and what you need to prove to succeed in a claim, or successfully defend one.  The better thing to do is to get advice, and we can give specific advice on your position and options, including any potential claims or your chances of successfully defending them.

What is the purpose of an Employment Tribunal?

The employment tribunal considers the claim before it, an each party’s version of events, with a view to determining whose version it prefers and therefore whether the claimant (employee) succeeds, or if the respondent (employer) has successfully defended the claim.  If the claimant succeeds, they will usually be awarded compensation – how much will depend on the nature of the claim, their losses, and how much the employment tribunal can award.

What happens during an Employment Tribunal?

There are a lot of steps (and usually a long time) between deciding to bring a claim and reaching a final hearing at the employment tribunal.  At the hearing itself, each party will have a chance to put forward their version of events, using documents (the contract, emails, and any other relevant documents) to support what they say.

Is there a Judge at an Employment Tribunal?

Yes.  There will be an Employment Judge, who is legally qualified and very experienced in employment law.  Depending on the type of claim, the Employment Judge will either hear it alone, or with two additional panel members, called “lay members”, who are from a business or trade union background.

Is it worth going to an Employment Tribunal?

This is a really tricky question to answer, but we will put you in a position to make an informed decision on whether – for you or your business – it is worth going to an employment tribunal.

We’ll do this by reviewing the situation and supporting documents, discussing things fully with you, and considering your position and prospects of success, and what award you might hope to get if you’re an employee, or have to pay out if you’re an employer.  We’ll look at the cost/benefit of bringing or defending a claim, or whether it’s better to seek to make a deal.  We’ll set out your options for you to make the decision on which option is best for you.

An employment tribunal can be costly both financially & emotionally.

What are chances of Success at an Employment Tribunal?

It isn’t possible to say what your chances of success are, as it will always vary depending on the particular circumstances, the nature of the claims, the proof each party holds in terms of supporting documents, and many other factors.  What we can do is review your case and advise you on your position and options.

What is the maximum payout at an Employment Tribunal?

The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal is 52 weeks’ pay or £93,878 (as at April 2022-2023 – see here). The maximum basic award for unfair dismissal is £17,130 (as at April 2022-2023 – see here again).

There is no cap on awards for discrimination, whistleblowing.  Other sums may be awarded, such as an award for injury to feelings in discrimination claims, which are based on the impact of the discriminatory treatment on the employee, rather than any actual cash losses suffered.

How much does an Employment Tribunal cost?

This will depend on the nature and complexity of your claim.  We’ve got some basic costs information here.

Do Employment Tribunals favour Employers?

Employment tribunals will hear both parties’ versions of events and decide whose version they prefer, and therefore whether the claim succeeds or not.  The better prepared you are, and the more evidence you have to support your position, the better.  We can add value by ensuring that you’re in the best position possible by the time of the hearing, to give you the best chance of succeeding.

What happens if I lose an Employment Tribunal?

If you’re an employee and you lose your claim, you won’t get any award.  However, unlike in the ordinary courts, there is a low risk of having to pay any of your employer’s costs if you lose – costs are very rarely awarded in the employment tribunals.  If you’ve instructed solicitors we’ll ensure that you comply with the various rules and requirements which in turn reduces your risk in this regard.

If you’re an employer and you lose, it’s likely that an award of compensation will be made to the employee.  Some types of compensation are fixed and calculated on a formula, some will depend on the employee’s losses, and some on how badly they were impacted by the treatment to which they were subjected. Again, though, there’s not much chance that costs would be awarded against you, especially if you’ve instructed solicitors, who will ensure that the risk of costs being awarded against you is as low as we can get it.

Can I appeal an Employment Tribunal?

Yes, on certain grounds, namely if you think the employment tribunal has made an error of law in its decision, or where the employment tribunal’s decision was “perverse”.  It’s not an unlimited ability to appeal, and the process is really complicated.  We’d always suggest getting advice as early as possible after an unfavourable employment tribunal decision so you can make an early decision and have as much time as possible to properly prepare your appeal.

Need more help?

If you need more help with the subjects covered here then do reach out to our expert online employment law solicitors.  You can email us at employment@qlaw.co.uk or call 03300 020 863.

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