Employment Tribunals

First published on Thursday, Dec 02, 2021

Last updated on Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

From time to time, employees may claim that they’ve been mistreated in the workplace. If a claim can’t be resolved at work, it can lead to an employment tribunal.

In the UK, employment tribunals deal with disputes made from employers by staff relating to their employment. An employment relationship is protected by the Employment Rights Act 1996.

In this guide, we’ll explain what a tribunal is, the process, and any costs involved with an employment tribunal.

What is an Employment Tribunal?

Employment tribunals make judgments about all employment disagreements.

Almost all legal employment cases are heard in employment tribunals. There are many types of legal cases that can be heard in an employment tribunal, such as:

An employment judge usually makes the final decision of a tribunal. Depending on the complexity of the claim, the judge will either sit alone or as part of a panel.

What is the Employment Tribunal Process?

If an employee has made a dispute, you will need to follow the correct employment tribunal process.

There are several steps in the employment tribunal process:

  • Early conciliation – This involves an independent Acas conciliator who discusses the claim with both parties and starts the tribunal.
  • Claim – Employees must submit an employment tribunal form or submit for multiple claims) to the employment tribunal.
  • Defence – The respondents must reply to the employment tribunal within 28 days from the day the ET1 was sent out.
  • Assessment – The employment tribunal will review the claim and decide what happens next.
  • Hearing – This is where the employment tribunal will explain the claim, listen to evidence, and decide on the outcome.
  • Appeal – After the hearing, the employment tribunal will instruct on if there is an opportunity to appeal.

How long does an Employment Tribunal take?

Employment tribunals can take a long time, so its important to know the timescale of a claim.

The average time of starting a claim and expecting a decision can take up to 27 weeks – sometimes even up to a year.

This can dependant on number of factors:

  • The type of claim.
  • The number of witnesses called to give evidence.
  • The location of the hearing.
  • How busy the tribunal is (this can affect availability).

Employment Tribunal costs

There are no fees to pay for an employment tribunal claim.

If an employee loses their claim, a judge may order them to pay for an employer’s costs of going to court.

It may be unlikely an employee has to pay any costs. But a judge can order them to pay costs if they’re guilt of lying, fraudulence, or have misled the tribunal.

Your employee may have to pay one of the following costs if so:

  • Costs of getting an expert witness.
  • Legal fees for preparing the claim. Employment tribunals make judgments about all employment disagreements.
  • Costs of an employee’s time spent on preparing the claim.

Get help with Employment Tribunals with BrightHR

There are legal regulations to keep in mind at all stages of an employment tribunal.

Whether an employment tribunal decision goes your way or not, complying with all the rules can be tough.

BrightHR can alleviate any stress you have about employment tribunal forms, or the tribunals act 1996. We can ensure you follow all the vital steps for an employment tribunal process.

If you need any help with the employment tribunal rules, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our experts.

Book in a free demo today to see how easy it is. Give us a call on 08007832806

Frequently asked questions about Employment Tribunals

Our clients ask a lot of questions about employment tribunals. We’ve answered some of the most common ones below.

Not found an answer to your question? Bright Lightning answers thousands of employment questions in seconds.

How long does an employment tribunal take?

The average time of an employment tribunal can take up to 28 weeks. This can begin from making the initial claim, to awaiting the final decision from the judge.

What are the chances of winning an employment tribunal?

20% of employment tribunal claims are settled by ACAS. But 14% of claims are settled by tribunals.

Do most employers settle before tribunal?

Around 95% of cases are settled before the hearing at an employment tribunal. The system is designed to help you and your employee to settle your differences.

How long does it take for a tribunal hearing?

Employment tribunal hearings can be from half a day to up to several weeks – but it depends on the type of claim and the evidence needed.

Lucy Cobb

Employment Law Specialist

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