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We provide advice, support and representation should you wish to pursue a claim against your current, or former employer.
From the early stages of advising on the possible merits of your claim, the ACAS early conciliation process (a compulsory stage which all Claimants who intend to commence against must enter in to in order to try to resolve the matter before embarking on litigation), or with presenting a claim at the Employment Tribunal.
Before an individual presents a claim at the Employment Tribunal they must first enter in to the ACAS Early Conciliation process in order to seek to attempt to resolve the issue before embarking on possibly lengthy and time-consuming litigation, we can assist with this stage of negotiations and beyond, including representing you at the hearing.
You can be assured that the advice that we provide is commercial, pragmatic and professional and that will help to steer you to the best and most cost-effective resolution.
Please take a look at some of our Frequently Asked Questions below:
The Employment Tribunal is an independent Tribunal which makes decisions in legal disputes around employment law. Employment Tribunals deal with claims that you may bring against your employer relating to your employment or its termination. In Northern Ireland they are called Industrial Tribunals.
There is no fee (from the Tribunal) to start a claim. Employment Tribunals are set up to for individuals to bring claims without representation from a solicitor, however employment law is vast and so many employees choose to have legal representation. If you choose to be unrepresented, then there is minimal financial cost to you but it will be extremely time consuming for you. It is possible to lodge a claim and represent yourself at Tribunal if cost is an issue. You should always check your household insurance or bank accounts to see whether you have any legal expenses cover. If you choose to instruct a solicitor to represent you, costs will depend on how much input you require. For example, you may wish a solicitor to partially assist you by drafting the claim form (ET1) and your particulars of claim, and then run the rest of the claim yourself. Alternatively, you may wish a solicitor to assist you all the way through your claim. Most solicitors will charge for their time on a time-spent basis, in accordance with their hourly rates. Typically, for a straightforward one day unfair dismissal claim it can cost anywhere between £8,000 – £10,000. Having solicitors on board from the start could be more cost effective, particularly if you are seeking a settlement sum and also to ensure you are bringing the strongest claims in the circumstances.
Yes. Acas Early Conciliation (EC) is compulsory for all claims. Before you lodge a claim at an Employment Tribunal, you must contact Acas and submit an EC form online. Acas will provide conciliation to attempt to reach a settlement between you and your employer. If settlement is not reached, or either party refuses to engage in EC, Acas will issue an EC certificate so that you can progress your Tribunal claim.
Before starting a claim, there are various steps that you should follow such as: • CHECKING TIME LIMITS. Checking the time limits for bringing the claim(s) that you seek is very important! • Complying with your employer’s policies and/or procedures, for example the disciplinary or grievance procedure (where appropriate) and ensuring that the Acas Code of Practice on discipline and grievance procedures has been followed (if applicable to your claim). Both employees and employers are responsible for sticking to the Acas code. But remember… time is of the essence and you may need to notify Acas of your claim before you have managed to check all of these things or have any answers back from your employer. Make sure you know the time limits for your claim!
• Contacting Acas and complying with ‘early conciliation’ to see if there’s potential to resolve the dispute instead of going to Tribunal. Again, always be mindful of the time limits!
• If no settlement can be reached via Acas early conciliation, obtaining an Acas ‘early conciliation certificate’ which shows that the parties were unable to agree a settlement at that stage.
• Lodge your claim by completing an ET1 and particulars of claim and submitting them to the Employment Tribunal.
• Upon receipt of the claim, the Tribunal:
• Formally lodges your claim.
• Sends a copy of your claim to Acas.
• Sends a copy to your employer (also known as the ‘Respondent’), together with a form for them to complete, in response to your claim (an ET3).
The Respondent then has 28 days to complete and return their ET3 to the Tribunal. In their response, the Respondent sets out the main points of its defence (response). The next stages usually include a preliminary hearing to set a timetable and iron out any preliminary issues to the final hearing. The Tribunal will send out instructions setting out the case preparation steps, this is known as giving ‘directions’. Examples of directions include dates for exchanging lists of documents, full disclosure dates and when witness statements should be exchanged. The directions will also set out other relevant deadlines, including the hearing date.
Due to COVID, the Tribunal has changed the way it operates, meaning that in the vast majority of cases, hearings will be remote via Cloud Video Platform (CVP). The parties must co-operate with running cases. Changes will likely include providing electronic bundles of documents or shortening the issues in a case, by agreement, to make the hearing time shorter. The Respondent is normally responsible for preparing the bundle. The Tribunal is also facing a back log of cases meaning that it is taking much longer for cases to be allocated hearing dates.
Unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal claims must be made within three months (less one day) of the effective date of termination of employment or the discriminatory act. The effective date of termination (EDT) is defined as: • The date on which your notice expires (where you have been dismissed with notice); or • The date on which termination takes effect (where you have been dismissed without notice). If your claim is not submitted in time, your claim will be barred (unless there is an exception and the time limit can be extended in certain circumstances). However, it is unlikely that a claim out of time will be allowed to proceed so it is vital that you lodge your claim in time. The Employment Tribunal has the discretion to extend time if you can show that it was not reasonably practicable to present your claim within the three-month period or, in some discrimination cases, if it is ‘just and equitable’ to do so.
Yes. Unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal claims must be made within three months (less one day) of the effective date of termination of employment.
The effective date of termination (EDT) is defined as:
• The date on which the employee’s notice expires (where the employee has been terminated with notice); or
• The date on which termination takes effect (where the employee has been dismissed without notice).
If a claim is not submitted in time, the claim will be barred (unless there is an exception and the time limit can be extended in certain circumstances). However, it is unlikely that a claim out of time will be allowed to proceed so it is vital that you lodge your claim in time.
If you do receive an ET1 form out of time in respect of your former employee, complete and return it, but clearly state as part of your defence that the claim is out of time. You should also ask for a preliminary hearing to determine the issue of the claim being out of time.
Claims that are not settled or withdrawn come before the tribunal for a formal hearing.
A preliminary hearing is typically a short hearing to address any issues so that the case can proceed smoothly on to a full hearing. By way of example, there may be issues that need to be determined and agreed prior to the final hearing if possible such as worker status (i.e. employee/ self-employed) or whether the claimant is disabled for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
A final hearing is a full hearing, where all evidence is heard by the Tribunal.
Both parties will be guided by case management orders, or ‘directions’, from the Tribunal. It is important to ensure that you comply with all court orders and contact the other side or the Tribunal if you are unable to do so for any reason.
Typical orders include:
• Exchanging lists of all documents relevant to the claim. For example, your contract of employment, letters, emails, notes of meetings and any other paper or digital records, whether they help or hinder your case. The documents have to be agreed by both parties, and will be presented in a ‘bundle’ for the final hearing. Usually the Respondent prepares the bundle.
• Preparing your witness statements and any other witness statements from all witnesses who will give evidence at the hearing. Witness statements must be written in numbered paragraphs and will often cross reference documents that have been disclosed.
All parties and witnesses must attend the Tribunal on time, whether this takes place in person or remotely via Cloud Video Platform (CVP). Most Tribunal hearings are currently being held via CVP and you should assume this is the case unless you are told otherwise. When you complete your claim form, you will be asked whether you are able to attend a remote hearing or whether you require any adjustments. This is your opportunity to detail any reasons why you require an in-person hearing or need any adjustments. At the hearing, the Employment Judge usually sets out the key issues and checks whether there are any preliminary matters that still need to be addressed. In most cases, the witness statements have already been lodged and are ’taken as read’. This means that they are the witnesses’ primary evidence unless the Tribunal states otherwise. In some cases, the Judge may ask witnesses to read all or part of their statements out loud or clarify some crucial points. Each witness takes an oath before reading their statement or being asked questions by the ‘other side’ and then by their ‘own side’. The Judge may also ask witnesses questions. Once all witnesses for one party have given evidence, then the other side’s witnesses will have their turn. At the end, both sides will ‘sum up’ their case, and the Tribunal will adjourn or, in some cases, give its decision immediately. Tribunals try to limit the time that hearings take, and Judges have the flexibility to manage the proceedings as they see fit. Outcomes Depending on the time available, the decision (called a ‘judgment’) will be given. Judgment is not always given on the day of the hearing. If the Tribunal reaches a decision in favour of you, depending on the type of claim, the Tribunal can award: • Reinstatement (you get your job back). • Re-engagement (you return in a new role). • Compensation.
• Payment of wages or monies due such as accrued but untaken holiday pay or notice pay. Reinstatement and re-engagement are not usual outcomes, the main outcome is compensation and the amount differs depending on the claim.
Avoiding a full hearing and trying to settle is even more critical since the COVID-19 pandemic as the Tribunal is seeing an increase in cases and they are taking significantly longer to be listed and heard (more than 1 year in some cases).
An unreasonable failure to comply with the Acas Code of Practice means an Employment Tribunal can increase any award by up to 25% (or reduce it by up to 25% if the failure is by you). This is subject to the statutory cap of £89,493 – and a minimum basic award of four weeks’ pay, except in discrimination cases, where there is no statutory cap.
Employment law solicitors for businesses
Confused by contracts? Perplexed by paperwork? Distressed by difficult staff? We can help.
- Absence and Performance Management
- Bullying and Harassment
- Business transfers, TUPE and Outsourcing
- Company Restructuring
- Contracts of Employment, Policies and Staff Handbooks
- Disciplinaries and Grievances
- Employment Tribunals and ACAS Early Conciliation
- Gender Pay Gap and Equal Pay
- Maternity Leave, Shared Parental Leave etc.
- Protected Conversations
- Recruitment Law
- Redundancy Law
- Restrictive Covenants
- Settlement Agreements
- Sickness Absence
Employment law for individuals
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- Bullying and Harassment
- Contracts of Employment and Restrictive Covenants
- Dismissal (Unfair Dismissal, Constructive Dismissal, Wrongful Dismissal)
- Pay disputes and Bonus Issues
- Protected Conversations
- Pursuing claims at an Employment Tribunal
- Settlement Agreements (formerly Compromise Agreements)
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