A Step by step Guide to Lodging an Employment Tribunal Claim for Employees
Considering whether to pursuing a claim against their employer can be a daunting task and there are a lot of factors which need to be considered. The main concerns usually being, what will it cost? What are the chances of success? And how to submit a claim?
If you are considering pursuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal it is always best to seek advice as soon as possible, this is not only to ensure the claim is worth pursing but also to ensure the claim is lodged within the correct timescale. There are strict deadlines in the Employment Tribunal and if you fail to submit your claim in time, unless there are exceptional circumstances, you will be unable to pursue the claim.
The timescale is normally 3 months, less one day, from the date of termination of employment.
I have summarised the process of an Employment Tribunal claim below:
1. Acas Early Conciliation
Other than in limited circumstances, you will have to lodge a claim with Acas. This must be done within the timescale, as specified above.
The process involves you informing Acas of the claim(s), an advisor will then contact you to obtain further details and contact details for your employer. They will then liaise with you and your employer, to resolve matters. If no resolution is reached, then you will exit the process and receive an EC certificate. You need your EC certificate number to lodge your claim with the Employment Tribunal.
Please note, you do not have to go through the Early Conciliation process, to receive your certificate, you can simply inform Acas of the claim and exit the process.
The Acas process is free.
You can view a video about the Acas Early Conciliation process here
2. Submitting a Claim
If a resolution has not been reached through the Acas process, the next stage would be to submit the claim, by completing form ET1, the claim can be submitted online. You can also submit the claim by post or hand delivery to the correct Employment Tribunal. However, I would advise, submitting the claim online for ease.
You are required to submit the details of your claim, within the form, and I would advise, where possible, you seek advice, as if your claim is unclear, it can lead to issues further along in the case.
Please note, there is currently no fee for submitting a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
3. Acceptance or Rejection of the ET1
Once submitted the claim will be reviewed and you will receive confirmation that the claim has been accepted.
If for some reason, there is an error with the claim form, the claim may be rejected. If this happens the Employment Tribunal will notify you of the reason(s) for the rejection, you will then need to rectify the error(s) and resubmit the claim.
I would advise, you submit the claim well within the timescale, as set out above, to ensure that you have time to rectify any error(s), which may occur. If the error(s) cannot be rectified before the deadline, you will be required to apply for reconsideration, if you wish to continue with the claim, which a Judge could deny.
4. The Defence
The claim form and details will be sent to the Employer who will then have to complete a form called an ET3. This contains the employer’s defence to the claim (if they intend to defend the claim). An employer has 28 days, from receipt of the claim from the Employment Tribunal (not the date the claim is submitted) to prepare the defence.
I advise you keep regular contact with the Employment Tribunal, to see when the claim was sent and if a defence has been received.
5. Preliminary Hearing
Some types of claim require a preliminary hearing, for instance discrimination and whistleblowing claims. This is usually, a short hearing, which allows the Judge to get to grips with the claim.
Following this a Case Management Order will be made.
6. Case Management Order
Once the Employment Tribunal has considered the claim form and defence, a Case Management Order will be issued. This can be issued earlier in some claims or made during a preliminary hearing, see above.
The Case Management Order sets of the timetable for preparation for the claim to be dealt with by the Tribunal at the final hearing. The timing and preparation is extremely important, and there can be penalties for failing to complete the preparation in time.
7. Final Hearing
The final stage is the hearing, the length of which will depend on the complexity of the claim and the number of witnesses required.
A claim usually takes between 9 – 12 months to conclude, however, can take longer if a long hearing is required or if there are delays in any of the stages, set out above.
We can assist with any part of a claim and will provide a cost estimate for dealing with the whole claim, or specific parts.
If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01983 897003.