Employment Tribunals And The Claims Process
If you are looking to make an employment claim or to defend one, where should you issue your claim? Almost all cases should be started in the Employment Tribunal, usually with one exception explored in the next paragraph.
A claim for wrongful dismissal is limited to only £25,000 when often a contractual claim can be for a much larger sum than this. Therefore, if you have a claim for wrongful dismissal or any other contractual claim you are likely to want to issue this in the County Court where your claim is not limited to this amount.
The Employment Tribunal
An Employment Tribunal is an independent judicial body that is used exclusively for employment law claims and consists of two non legally qualified members (from business) and a legally qualified chairman.
The types of claims that can be pursued in an Employment Tribunal include the following:
- Redundancy Claims
- Unfair Dismissal Claims
- Discrimination (including sexual discrimination, race discrimination and age discrimination)
- National Minimum Wage Claims
The person making that starts the claim is known as the “Claimant”, the person defending it as the “Respondent”.
Time Limits For Employment Tribunal Actions
There are some time limits that usually must be followed in an Employment Tribunal claim. In all cases the time limits can vary from case to case so you should seek legal advice about your specific situation.
Usually you need to have been in employment for one year before you can take a claim to the Employment Tribunal. In addition, generally, you must provide your employer with 28 days notice before you start your proceedings. However, for Unfair Dismissal claims you must make the claim within three months of your dismissal.
Payment of Your Salary Whilst You Make Your Claim
In some cases you may be able to make a claim to have your salary paid to you whilst you are pursuing your claim through the Employment Tribunal. You must be pursuing a certain type of claim to be able to make this application, and if you qualify you must make the application for interim relief within 7 days of the date of your dismissal.
The types of claims which qualify include:
- For Trade Union related activities
- Taking someone with you to a disciplinary or grievance hearing
- Dismissal for carrying out Health and Safety related activities when it is your role to do so
- Acting as a workers representative
What Happens Next?
Once a claim has been issued in the Tribunal, ACAS (the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) will attempt to make contact with both parties to see if there is any opportunity of settling the claim without the need for a hearing.
If settlement cannot be reached, the claim will proceed through various mini hearings to determine what evidence should be served, and the time limits to be adhered to, before a final hearing takes place in front of the Employment Tribunal.
At the final hearing the three members of the Employment Tribunal will listen to and review the evidence from the Claimant and the Respondent along with any witnesses.
When all of the evidence has been heard, they will make their decision which can include:
- No compensation (eg no good claim)
- Reinstatement of an employee
- Compensation to the employee