Mon 24 Apr 2023

Raising an employment tribunal claim - what you need to know

You can make a claim to an employment tribunal if you think that you have been treated unlawfully at work. There are many types of claims that are brought before employment tribunals, but the most common types include unfair dismissal, discrimination, breach of contract and claims for unpaid wages. Many claims can be made while you are still in employment with your employer.

Time limits

Employment tribunal claims generally need to be made within 3 months of your employment ending, or of the issue you are complaining about happening.  So, if the termination of employment or issue you are complaining about happened on 15 May, your claim would usually need to be with the employment tribunal on or before 14 August.  However, the 3-month time limit will be put on hold while early conciliation takes place (see below).  Claims are only allowed to proceed outwith these time limits in very limited circumstances so you should take advice as soon as possible if you think you may have a claim.

Early conciliation

Before you can make an application to the employment tribunal you will usually be required to tell ACAS that you intend to make a claim.  You will then be offered free Early conciliation.  This will give you and your employer the opportunity to settle the dispute without going to an employment tribunal.  However, neither party is required to participate.  If early conciliation is unsuccessful, or if either party does not wish to participate, ACAS will issue you with an early conciliation certificate.  This will include an early conciliation number which must be included on your employment tribunal application. 

Even if early conciliation is unsuccessful, ACAS will still provide conciliation services up to and including the final hearing date of your claim.

How do I make a claim?

You can make a claim using the online service.

What does it cost to bring a tribunal claim?

This will depend on whether you are representing yourself or paying a representative to help present your claim.  You may also have to pay the costs of any witnesses you bring.  Although it is rare, you may also be liable for the costs of the people or organisation you are claiming against if the employment tribunal decides you have acted unreasonably in your pursuit of the claim. 

What happens next?

Usually the parties you are making the claim against will be sent your claim form and be given 28 days to respond, putting their side of the story.   Once they have replied, the tribunal will advise both parties of the next steps, which may include an initial hearing to decide on things like whether your claim can go ahead in part or in full, when a full hearing will take place and how long it should take.  Some orders may also be given regarding witnesses or the production of documents and timescales for doing that.  If any orders are made that you are required to comply with it is important that you do so within the required timescale.  These hearings sometimes happen by phone or video as well as in person.

What should I expect at a full hearing?

At a full hearing you and any witnesses on your behalf will need to give evidence.  This may be done partly via pre-prepared witness statements, however in Scotland it is much more likely that you will need to give your evidence orally.  You will also be cross examined.  You should also be prepared to cross examine witnesses representing the party(ies) you are making a claim against and in Scotland to question your own witnesses.

When will I find out if I have won?

You may find out on the day if you have been successful, or the hearing may be adjourned and you will be notified at a later date.  If you have been successful you may be awarded compensation or, if you requested it, in unfair dismissal cases you may get your old job back, or one on the same terms and conditions. For more information on awards of compensation and how they are calculated see Employment tribunal awards.

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We provide employment law advice, throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK, for employees at all levels. Please click on "Make an Enquiry" or "Contact Us" and send us your details.  We will then arrange for one of our Team to contact you as a priority to discuss your employment situation and to provide a quote.

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