Employment tribunals are part of the court system of the United Kingdom and have sole jurisdiction to hear claims that arise from employment such as unfair dismissal and discrimination. Our index of employment rights contain claims that are heard by an employment tribunal.

Using the employment tribunal system is free and there is a presumption that each side will bear its own legal costs and the losing party will not pay the legal costs of the winner.

The Employment Tribunal Process

Generally, all claims to an employment tribunal must be commenced within three months of the date of the act that you are complaining about.

If you want to make a claim to an employment tribunal, first you must commence ACAS Early Conciliation.

It is vitally important to ensure that your employer’s name and details are correct when making filling in the ACAS forms. ACAS will contact you for further information and then attempt to mediate a settlement between you and your employer.

If this fails, you will be given a certificate with a number that must be quoted on your claim form. You will have at least one month after ACAS has sent you an Early Conciliation Certificate to send your ET1 claim form to the employment tribunal.

ET1 Claim Form

To make a claim to an employment tribunal, you must fill in an ET1 form. In the form, you must provide certain information about yourself, your employer and the circumstances of your claim. It is strongly advisable to obtain legal assistance in drafting the grounds of your complaint against your employer as this will define the future of the employment tribunal process. If you do not include vital information in your grounds of complaint or do not describe your claim properly, you can severely limit your case and lose out on significant compensation.

Our partners can assist you in drafting your ET1 form and grounds of complaint.

Acceptance of Claim and Response

Once your claim has been submitted to the employment tribunal, you will receive an email informing you that the claim has been received. You will then receive a further letter explaining that your claim has been accepted, or if not, why not.

If your claim, or part of your claim, is accepted as being capable of being heard, the employment tribunal will require your employer to enter a response to your claims within 28 days of it being notified of the same.

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Employment Tribunal Processes

The basic processes of the employment tribunal that you will need to undertake in order to progress your claim against your employer, are as follows:

  1. Schedule of Loss.
  2. Preliminary Hearing.
  3. Disclosure and agreeing the Bundle.
  4. Witness statements.

In addition to these basic steps there are several other processes that are contained within the employment tribunal, including applications for further and better particulars, witness orders, striking out parts of the claim or response, and costs applications (although these are rare). These steps are too many to be explained on our website, but we set out basic information in respect of the key stages below.

Schedule of Loss

You will usually be ordered to submit a schedule of loss around the same time your employer enters its response to your claims, or shortly thereafter.

It is advisable to instruct us to draft your schedule of loss, even if you are not formally represented in the tribunal process. This is because the schedule of loss is your opportunity to explain to a judge what it is you are claiming. If you fail to set out vital aspects of your claim, you could lose out on thousands of pounds.

The compensation that you can claim at the employment tribunal is set out on our remedies page {DON’T HAVE THIS PAGE}.

Your schedule of loss should set out any claim for wages or notice pay you have not been paid. It should contain a claim for a basic award and loss of statutory rights if you are claiming unfair dismissal. It should also contain a claim for future losses of earnings if you have had to leave your job because of your employer’s unlawful treatment of you, and a claim for injury to feelings and/or health if you are claiming discrimination or detriments for having made protected disclosures.

Preliminary Hearing

It will probably be the case that a telephone hearing will be scheduled between the you and your employer at the start of the case. This hearing will be chaired by a judge, and is to give directions for how the case is to proceed as well as confirming the claims that are being made and the witnesses that will need to give evidence.

You will be sent an agenda before the Preliminary Hearing that you will need to complete in advance.


It is your duty, and that of your employer’s, to search for and disclose to one another all documents and material that is relevant to the proceedings in the employment tribunal, whether it supports or detracts from the cases of the parties.

The usual process is for you to search for documents and then list the documents you do have. You will then send that list to your employer, followed by copies of the documents themselves a few weeks later.

You will be provided with dates to complete these stages by.

It is advisable to seek legal advice and support from us if you believe that your employer is failing to disclose to you documents that are vital to your case, as you are able to make an application to the tribunal that has the effect of compelling your employer to hand over these documents.

Witness Statements

Usually, the employee is the only witness on their side in employment tribunal hearings. If you have other witnesses who can provide evidence that supports key aspects of your case, you can ask them to provide a witness statement.

It is strongly advisable to instruct us to draft your witness statement for you. We have been instructed late on many cases to undertake this work and due to the strength of the witness statement we have secured last-minute financial settlements that were very favourable to our clients. It takes a lot of legal skill and experience to draw together the threads of a case and to present the evidence to the judge in a way that causes your employer to question the strength of its case.

If you believe that your employer is not providing sufficient evidence from its witnesses to cover the issues in your case then you can make an application to the employment tribunal for a witness order compelling a witness to attend the hearing.

The Final Hearing

Statistics show that the vast majority of potential employment claims are settled before a claim needs to be made to an employment tribunal and, even once a claim has been submitted to an employment tribunal, over 80% of claims are then settled prior to a final hearing. It is almost always in the interests of both parties to settle employment tribunal claims, but sometimes common ground cannot be found and employees must proceed to a hearing.

At a final employment tribunal hearing, a judge will hear your claims against your employer, and they may be assisted by two additional members in certain types of proceedings, such as discrimination.

Although an employment tribunal is not a court and is often in an informal setting, more like a meeting room than the Old Bailey, it can be an intimidating environment.

It is very likely that your employer will be represented by solicitors and barristers.

The side which has the burden of proof will present their evidence first – the employer in unfair dismissal cases, the employee in most other cases.

Witness statements are taken as read and witnesses will then be cross-examined by the lawyers representing the parties.

At the end of the evidence, the parties sum up their case by reference to the evidence and the law.

The judge will then take a decision as to the outcome of the case and on remedy, if the claim is successful.

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