Employment tribunals facilitate decision making regarding employment disputes. Employment disputes that are not resolved at the workplace or cases which have a legal binding are heard at the employment tribunals. In other words, almost all legal cases with respect to employment are heard in the employment tribunals. Although, both the employer and employee can opt for an alternative procedure to resolve the difference of opinion, a few employee matters are still addressed at an employment tribunal. It is essential for both the parties to have a carefully planned procedure that can help in preparing good evidence, making it uncomplicated to support the actions. Nowadays, the employment law interpretations are turning in favor of employees. Hence, it becomes imperative to understand how the tribunal and the systems functions. The employment tribunal addresses cases such as unjust dismissal, joblessness, unfair deduction of pay, and inequity. Apart from these, the tribunal takes care of other claims as well.


If an employee thinks he / she has received an unlawful treatment from either an employer or trade union, the employee can file for a claim to an employment tribunal. As per the guidelines, a claim to the tribunal has to be made within three (3) months from employment ending or the issue arising. The tribunal is an independent body from the government and before making any decision the tribunal will listen to both the claimant and the respondent. Prior to making a claim some official procedure need to be followed:

  • It is imperative to notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) regarding the objective of the claim
    • Without going to the court, an option is given to make an effort and settle the dispute by using Early Conciliation service (Acas’s free service)
    • If the conciliation doesn’t materialize, a certificate is issued which can be used when making a claim to the tribunal

The deadline is extended by the time spent in conciliation. That means, if three (3) weeks are spent in conciliation, the deadline is extended by 3 weeks. The claimant / respondent will get as a minimum one month to file for a claim. For any query, Acas can be contacted between 8 AM to 8 PM (Monday to Friday) and 9 AM to 1 PM on a Saturday at:
Telephone: 0300-123-1100 
Text-phone: 18001-0300-123-1100

Employment tribunal unfair dismissal

Though there are some exceptions but mostly employee needs 2 years of continuous service before he / she can claim most types of unfair dismissal. Compensation is given to any successful claim based on the lost earnings of the employee. Since 29 July 2013, a cap has been put on the compensatory award for unfair dismissal, which at present is the lower of £78,335 or 52 weeks pay. From 6 April 2016, this has been increased to £78,962.


To make a claim certain amount of fee has to be paid. The amount is decided depending on the personal circumstances and the sort of case. Certain types of cases can be:




Unpaid wages






Unfair dismissal



Breach of contract



Equal pay



Redundancy pay






The fee amount can be paid by:

  • For online application, the fee can be paid via a debit or credit card
  • For application by post, a cheque or postal order needs to be made out to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service’

Since 29 July 2013, a fee is applicable for a claim at the tribunal and if the claim goes for hearing another fee amount is applicable. It is not possible to make a claim without paying the fee.


Once a claim is applied, the respondent typically needs to send a written reply to the claim with 28 days of receiving the claim form. In this written reply, the respondent explains their point of view and the analysis of the case. Once the tribunal receives the response, they will take a call on whether a full hearing is required or not to decide the case. In-case, the tribunal doesn’t receive any response from the respondent it is then the tribunal’s call if it wants to decide the case without having the hearing.

Employment tribunal cases – Preliminary hearing

The claimant may be asked to go through a preliminary hearing, with the judge, to decide on certain things:

  • whether part or all of your claim can go ahead
  • the date and time of a hearing
  • duration of the hearing

Pre-hearing review

Before the main hearing takes place, a pre-hearing review takes place which is a shorter hearing. Either the tribunal will decide if there will be a pre-hearing or the employee / employer can ask for a review with regards to preparing for the case. The people present at a pre-hearing review usually are the tribunal judge, employee and employer, or their representatives. In certain cases the tribunal might ask the employee or the employer to pay a deposit. This situation arises if the tribunal feels that the case does not have a fair chance of success.

Documentation process

Both the parties involved in the case can ask for documents that will be helpful during the proceedings of the case. These documents can be:

  • Employment contract
  • Salary slips
  • Pension scheme details
  • Relevant meetings attended at work and their notes

The tribunal will issue an order with the timetable for exchange of documents. It will also issue a letter stating the number of copies of each document to be carried at the hearing

Organise witnesses

Both the parties can get witnesses to the trial if they have substantial evidence regarding the case. The tribunal can issue an order to the witness to be present, if they don’t come. A written application needs to be given to the tribunal with:

  • Details (name, address) of the witness
  • Details of the information the witness has and how can that information be helpful for the case
  • Reason for denial



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