Employment Tribunals: Understanding the Basics

Employment Tribunals: Understanding the Basics

What is an employment tribunal, how does it work and what will it achieve?

By Emma Meakin

What is an employment tribunal?

The employment tribunal is an independent body, similar to the courts, which will review and make a decision about an employment claim. The tribunal will hear nearly all types of employment cases, such as unfair dismissal, discrimination or redundancy.

Getting to the tribunal

The tribunal is effectively a last resort. First you must take steps to work with the other party involved in the dispute (i.e. your employer) to resolve the situation.

The first step is to follow your employer’s internal grievance procedure. This will be set out in your employer’s internal policies and a copy of this should be provided on request. Normally, you will provided with information on this process upon redundancy, or when you lodge a grievance with your manager.

If you do not feel that the internal process has resolved the situation, you cannot go straight to the tribunal. You are required to notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas). The organization will act as an intermediary and attempt to broker settlement between you and your employer. You are under no obligation to accept any offer put forward. You can also seek alternative means of resolution such as the appointment of a solicitor and mediation if you would prefer. But your dispute in any event must be registered with the organization.

If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful then Acas will issue a certificate stating this. It is on receipt of this certificate that the matter can be escalated to the tribunal. This can be done online via the Gov.uk website.

Always seek advice

Disputes in the workplace are never pleasant but they should not be ignored because you feel unsure or worried that the process will be costly or affect future employment. This is not the case and there are lots of websites that provide comprehensive advice: Gov.uk, Citizens Advice or Acas for instance. Alternatively, if you would like to speak to a solicitor, the Find a Solicitor tool from the Law Society can assist your search.

 

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