Employment Tribunals are the judicial body with responsibility for workplace justice. They are the main forum for deciding disputes between workers and employers. When workplace disputes are not resolved through negotiation or internal processes, employees may turn to ET to seek a resolution. The employer is obliged to defend itself against the allegations raised by the employee. The process can be stressful and costly.
What are the common types of employment tribunal claims?
The main type of claim seen at the employment tribunal is unfair dismissal. This is where an employee believes their employer breached their statutory obligations when dismissing them.
Another prevalent case is breach of contract. This is where an employee believes their employer has acted in breach of contract. The most common type of breach of contract witnessed by the employment tribunal is wrongful dismissal – alleged that an employer has failed to pay appropriate notice pay.
Other cases include wage disputes (generally unpaid wages and/or holiday) and discrimination. Claims are based on characteristics and disappointingly this is relatively common at the employment tribunal. These cases also tend to produce the highest awards against employers.
What is the employment tribunal claim process?
It’s important to know that before an employee can file a claim, they are required to engage in early conciliation which aims to settle a dispute without the need to file a claim with the employment tribunal. If early conciliation fails, only then can an employee submit a claim.
The employer will receive a copy of the claim from the employment tribunal and must respond directly to the employment tribunal to address the allegations. The employment tribunal will provide a timeframe for the response to be delivered. This is usually 28 days from receipt of the copy of the claim.
A preliminary hearing may be scheduled to clarify any issues, decide on jurisdiction and issue ordered relating to the management of the case. If no settlement is reached then a full tribunal hearing will take place, attended by a tribunal panel – allowing both parties to present their case. The panel will then make a decision based on the evidence presented and relevant laws. If the employer is found liable, it’s likely that remedies will be ordered.
How can we help?
It’s important to be proactive as an employer to prevent future disputes. This can range from using properly drafting employment contracts, to providing training that promotes good practice within your organisation from a discrimination perspective, creating a fair dismissal process, to using legally compliant settlement agreements. Luckily, we’ve got experience with all of that!
Need a UK Employment Lawyer to help avoid a future claim? Don't worry if it's too late - we can help you navigate the employment tribunal process. Get in touch with the team.
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