What is an employment tribunal?

If you are faced with a workplace dispute it can be unsettling. Fear of losing your livelihood and the emotional strain a dispute can cause all add up to make the process stressful.

Employers also have much at stake, including a loss of reputation, the costs of defending the case and the time the case takes up. Time that could be spent on growing the business.

What constitutes a workplace dispute?

Workplace disputes between employers and employees can vary, though typically include matters such as:

  1. Unfair dismissal
  2. Breach of contract
  3. Unfair redundancy
  4. TUPE
  5. Religious belief discrimination
  6. Sexual orientation discrimination
  7. Age discrimination
  8. Whistleblowing
  9. Sex discrimination
  10. Race discrimination
  11. Disability discrimination

What is an employment tribunal?

Simply put, an employment tribunal is an impartial process which seeks to resolve disputes between employers and employees. While the process is less formal than a court hearing, the ruling is still legally binding.

The employment tribunal process

The first thing to note within the tribunal process is the timeframe. Claims must be lodged with the employment tribunal within three months, less one day, of the incident or of your last day of employment.

To lodge a claim in the first instance you must contact ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service), who will look into the possibility of resolving the dispute without it escalating further.

Once lodged with ACAS and assuming the matter cannot be resolved with their input, the next step is to complete a ET1 form. Once submitted, the respondent then has the opportunity to review the claim and submit their response.

Both parties will need to gather and provide relevant documentation in support of their case. A hearing date will then be set which both parties attend. Each can bring representatives if they want to.

The role of ACAS

It is often in both the employee’s and the employer’s best interests to settle the dispute before it goes to a tribunal hearing. As such the ACAS process has been designed to help both parties reach a mutually agreeable settlement. From the outset you will have the opportunity to work with ACAS to take part in conciliation to resolve the dispute, avoiding the need for a tribunal. Taking part in the ACAS conciliation process is not mandatory.

When to seek legal advice

For both employers and employees, an employment tribunal can be demanding. Likely to be unchartered territory, getting expert advice and support, to ensure the best possible result for your case, is a wise move and can help make navigating the process easier.

Appointing a solicitor to represent you at the hearing ensures you have someone on your side with an understanding of employment law who is working in your best interests.

Here at Smith Partnership our team of employment law specialists are not only experts in employment law, but also bring other skills to the process, including mediation and negotiation.

If you’d like to find out more about the legal services offered by Smith Partnership, don’t hesitate to contact us via info@smithpartnership.co.uk. Alternatively, speak to a member of our team directly on 0330 123 1229.

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