You can be taken to an employment tribunal by an employee or someone else (eg a job applicant or trade union) over various issues, including pay, dismissal and discrimination.
You may have to pay compensation or reinstate the claimant if you lose the case.
Respond to a claim
The tribunal will send you a letter (known as a ‘response pack’) if a claim has been made against you and conciliation hasn’t worked. You can respond either:
- by filling out and returning the response pack you’re sent
- by downloading and filling in the response form and sending it to the tribunal office dealing with the case
You must respond to the claim within 28 days. If you fail to respond, the tribunal judge may automatically find in the claimant’s favour.
You can try to settle the case at any time by offering to pay compensation to the claimant (known as a ‘settlement agreement’). This can also be done through Acas.
Before the hearing
You’ll be given at least 14 days’ notice before the hearing – you’ll get a letter confirming this. You must prepare documents and arrange for witnesses to attend in advance.
You may be asked to go to an initial hearing (called a preliminary hearing) with the judge to decide on things like:
- the date and time of a hearing
- how long the hearing should take
The tribunal will let you know if you’ll have to give evidence or provide any extra information.
You can ask the claimant for documents that will help you with the case, and they can request documents from you.
Examples of documents include:
- a contract of employment
- pay slips
- details of a pension scheme
- notes from relevant meetings
Usually the tribunal will issue an order setting out a timetable for when you should exchange documents.
You’ll be sent a letter telling you how many copies of each document to bring to the hearing.
You can bring witnesses to the hearing if they can give evidence directly relevant to the case.
If you ask a witness to attend and they don’t want to, you can ask the tribunal to order them to come. You must apply in writing to the tribunal office dealing with the case.
At the hearing
You’ll present the case to the tribunal.
You may be asked questions by:
- the judge
- the claimant
Get a decision
You’ll be sent the decision in the post a few days or weeks after the hearing. In certain cases you may also be given the decision at the hearing.
If you lose the case
If you lose, the tribunal can order you to do certain things depending on the type of case. Examples include:
- giving the claimant their job back
- paying compensation if you can’t give the claimant their job back
- paying witness expenses
- paying damages or loss of earnings
- paying the claimant’s legal fees
Paying compensation is the most common outcome of a tribunal. There can be limits to the amount of money a tribunal can award. There’s no limit in cases of discrimination.
Compensation is payable from the day the judgment is received.
Interest is charged from the day the judgment is received, but you don’t pay interest if you pay the whole award within 14 days. If you don’t pay, you can be forced to do so – this includes being taken to court.
The tribunal usually works out the amount based on the financial loss the person has suffered as a result of your actions.
If you disagree with a tribunal decision
You can ask the tribunal to reconsider the decision if you lose the case.
You must write to the tribunal office within 14 days of getting the decision, saying why you want it to be reconsidered.
You need to give good reasons, eg:
- the tribunal made a mistake in the way it reached the decision
- you weren’t told about the hearing
- new evidence has turned up since the hearing
Appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal
You can also appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal if you think the employment tribunal made a legal mistake.
We can represent you at a tribunal hearing and throughout the proceedings to get the best possible outcome for you.