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Disputes between employees fall under the jurisdiction of the UK’s employment tribunals, which preside over employment contracts, discrimination and unfair dismissal claims. Employment disputes are potentially damaging to a business’ finances and reputation, and so swift and confidential resolution is preferable over open court proceedings.

What type of claims are heard before the employment tribunals?

  • Unfair dismissal. A claimant must have been employed for 103 weeks, a period known as “qualifying service” with an employer in order to bring an unfair dismissal claim against it.
  • If a claimant raises a discrimination claim upon dismissal, there is no minimum period of employment required. For a dismissal to be discriminatory, it must have been based on a protected characteristic, such as race, disability, religion, sexual orientation and gender.
  • Protected disclosures. An employee who reports criminal activity or malpractice that falls under a “protected disclosure” category can claim their dismissal was wrongful.

What are the costs of bringing an employment tribunal claim?

In 2017, the UK Supreme Court ruled that employment tribunal fee regime violated fundamental rights to access justice, as well as discriminated against women. As a result, fees to make a claim have been removed entirely.

Adverse costs

Unlike court proceedings, it is very unlikely that a claimant is ordered to pay the litigation costs of their employer if they are unsuccessful.

On the other hand, if an employer loses its defence, the employment tribunal may impose a penalty on the employer, depending on the nature of their conduct against the employee. Penalties range between £100 and £5,000.

Are there alternatives to litigation in employment disputes?

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) provides an Early Conciliation process, during which an employer and employee voluntarily enter talks presided over by a Conciliation Officer. For claims submitted on or after 6 May 2014, notification of the potential claim before the employment tribunal must be made to ACAS.

Litigation should be primarily viewed as a last resort, and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms, facilitated through ACAS, should be exhausted before turning to the tribunal. Through ADR proceedings, including negotiation, mediation and arbitration, an employer/employee dispute will involve lower costs and preserve confidentiality as opposed to public proceedings in open court.

What time limits are applicable?

Claims before the employment tribunal must be brought within three months minus one day from the date an employee is dismissed. If an early conciliation process has been commenced with ACAS, it places a hold on the running of time limits.

Contact our Employment Tribunal Solicitors in Mayfair and throughout London

The Solicitors at Lewis Nedas Law have a broad range of experience in acting on behalf of both employers and employees in litigation and ADR. We identify that workplace issues are highly sensitive and seek to exhaust available ADR remedies to ensure mitigated costs and confidentiality for both employer and employee. For expert advice from our Employment Law Solicitors, please call us on 02073872032 or complete our online enquiry form.

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