What do I need to know about employment tribunals?

What do I need to know about employment tribunals?

In what circumstances can I make a claim to an employment tribunal?

If you believe an employer, potential employer or trade union has treated you in an unlawful manner, you can bring an action against them before an employment tribunal.

Unlawful treatment can include:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Discrimination
  • Unfair pay deductions.


How long do you have to make a claim to an employment tribunal?

Typically, you will have to file your claim with the tribunal within three months of your employment ceasing or the event occurring.

Before making a claim, you must inform the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) that you intend to pursue a claim before the tribunal.

ACAS will offer you the chance to settle the dispute without appearing at the tribunal using its ‘early conciliation’ service, which it provides free of charge.

The deadline for making a tribunal claim will be extended by the time you spend in conciliation.


How can you make an employment tribunal claim and how much does it cost?

You can make an online claim to the employment tribunal, which may be subject to a fee. The exact amount of the fee will depend on the nature of your case and your personal circumstances. If you are receiving certain benefits or you are on a low income, you may be eligible for financial assistance to pay the fee.

The claim fee ranges from £160 to £250 and the hearing fee starts at £230 and reaches £950 at the upper end.

More information on the fees can be found here.

If you are applying online, you can pay the fees using a credit or debit card. If you are making a postal application, you can download and complete a claim form and pay by cheque or postal order made out to ‘HM Courts and Tribunals Service.’

Your application should be addressed to:

Employment Tribunal Centre Office (England and Wales)

PO Box 10218




What happens after you make an employment tribunal claim?

 Ordinarily, the respondent must reply to your claim within 28 days of receiving your claim form.

Once the respondent has replied, outlining their version of events, the tribunal will determine whether or not a full hearing will be held to decide your case.

If the respondent fails to respond, the tribunal may decide your case without you being required to attend.


Where are employment tribunal hearings held?

Cases are usually held at the employment tribunal office nearest to your place of work. You cannot claim expenses for attending the hearing.


What happens at the hearing?

Unless your case is about unfair dismissal, you or a representative will present your case first and call witnesses, if necessary. Your representative can be anyone from a friend or family member to a lawyer.

The respondent or their representative will present their case against you and you will be required to answer questions by the judge, respondent and two other tribunal panel members (in specific cases).

The tribunal’s decision will be posted to you a few days or weeks after the hearing.

If you win your case, the tribunal can order the losing side to do different things, depending on the case. This includes, for example, making compensation payments to you and making payment of your tribunal fees and witness expenses.

If you lose your case, you can make a written request for the tribunal to reconsider its decision within 14 days of the decision. A fee may be payable.

If you believe the employment tribunal made a legal error, you can also appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

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