Employment Tribunals - What You Should Know
21 February 2017
Sometimes, in an employee’s working life, they are let down very badly by their company. Be it discrimination (of any kind), unsavoury working conditions or a sudden, unexpected dismissal, some employees find themselves on the receiving end of unfair treatment.
Under UK Employment Law, this entitles them to take their employer to an Employment Tribunal if they have sufficient evidence to support their claims of unjust behaviour. You must normally present your claim to ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) within three months of either your employment ending or of the date the incident(s) happened.
Employment Tribunals are an independent judicial body established to resolve disputes between employers and employees over employment rights. They are less formal than a court hearing, but they are open to the public and all evidence is given under oath. The final outcome of the hearing will also be made available online – so this might be something employees want to consider.
Tribunals are there to protect an employee from unfair treatment, not the company. However, companies have the right to a fair trial and to settle outwith court.
Any disagreement around employment regulations can result in a hearing. If an employee has been at a company for less than two years, they can only bring about an Employment Tribunal if there are grounds for a disagreement on a protected category such as race, gender, sexuality and so forth.
For employees who have been with a firm more than two years, most tribunals arise from claims of unfair dismissal. However, they can also be for things like redundancy payment, wages and discrimination.
The Citizens Advice Bureau states that it is helpful for an employee to keep a diary or spreadsheet of any alleged unfair behaviour so that they can incorporate it in to their witness statement for the hearing.
There are two types of claim that employees can make – Type A and Type B. Type A relates to sums of money due on termination of employment such as payment in lieu of notice, unpaid wages, redundancy payments, or for unpaid holiday pay or unlawful deductions, whilst Type B refers to more complex claims such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay claims.
There is a £160 issue fee for a Type A claim and a £230 hearing fee that the employee must pay in order to bring their evidence before a panel. For Type B claims, there is a £250 issue fee and a £950 hearing fee.
There are three members of a tribunal panel who will decide on an employee’s case: an employment judge who will run the proceedings, a representative of employer's organisations and a representative of employee's organisations. Some types of cases can be heard by an employment judge without the panel members.
Employees are entitled to a representative at a tribunal and will also be required to stand and give evidence – this can include examples of incidents, witness testimony and medical reports.
After all the evidence has been heard, the tribunal will usually ask the employee to present another statement called ‘closing submissions’. Again, Citizens Advice recommend that it’s a good idea to prepare something to say, without attempting to make complicated legal points. All employees have to do is plainly state any other facts that they believe will help clarify their case.
Sometimes the panel will make their decision on that day – after some deliberation – otherwise they will let the participants know the outcome in writing at a later date. Employers who lose their case will most likely be made to pay a penalty on top of any award given to their former employee.
Understanding the entire procedure surrounding tribunals – as it can be equally stressful for employees and companies alike – is crucial. Knowledge of the process means that legal requirements are met and everyone receives a fair hearing. It also makes all the participants aware of any fees or evidence that they may have to provide; it ensures that everyone knows their rights.
This is why you should attend our Employment Law Update in association with Burness Paul LLP. It’s a free event and will provide you with important information when it comes to tackling a tribunal. It goes beyond answering questions and gives up-to-date, relevant examples.
The seminar will be held at the Burness Paull LLP offices in Glasgow, 120 Bothwell St, Glasgow G2 7JL.
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Written By Mary Palmer