In the UK, employment tribunals have sole jurisdiction over employment disputes, including discrimination, unfair dismissal, health and safety, redundancy and compensation. The tribunal’s decisions are legally binding on the parties to the action, but can be appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Cost of bringing a claim
In 2017, the UK’s Supreme Court held that the then incumbent fee structure for making a claim to the employment tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal was unlawful. The effect of this decision was to revert the system back to its pre-2013 status, which made it free to bring a claim.
It is imperative to note that free access to the employment tribunal does not prevent an adverse cost award being made against a claimant if they should lose their suit against their employer.
Time limits for bringing claims
Claims before the employment tribunal must be brought three months less one day from the date of the incident giving rise to the claim. However, claimants must note there are mandatory conciliation procedures that have to be exhausted before proceeding to a full tribunal hearing.
ACAS process and early conciliation
Before commencing a claim in the employment tribunal, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) must be notified. ACAS operates an Early Conciliation procedure, where a conciliator will facilitate a resolution between the employer and employee. The process will usually last between a week and one month. At the conclusion of the process, if the dispute is not resolved, ACAS will submit evidence to the tribunal that conciliation has been properly attempted and the claim can proceed.
Powers of the employment tribunal
The tribunal has extensive remedial powers, including reinstatement of prior employment positions, payment of any money due and issuance of broad workforce recommendations. If a matter is of pressing urgency, the tribunal can impose interim measures halting conduct that might result in irreparable harm pending the outcome of the proceedings.
The employment tribunal has the power to impose financial penalties over and above compensation awarded to the claimant. This will range between £100 and £5,000, and the employment tribunal will factor in mitigating circumstances, such as the financial state of the employer.
Human Rights Act 1998
Through the Human Rights Act 1998, the guarantees of the European Convention on Human Rights have been incorporated into UK domestic law and can form the basis of a claim before the employment tribunals. The claimant must show they are a victim of a breach of their Convention rights, which include privacy in the workplace and freedom of association through trade union membership.
Employment Law - Information on Fees
For information on fees and funding relating to Employment Law cases, please see our information page.
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At Lewis Nedas, our Employment Law Solicitors have over 25 years’ experience advising and representing national and international companies. Our Employment Lawyers have joined the Office Essential Network, which is a specialist organisation aimed at assisting young start-up businesses requiring advice on employment issues, including litigation before the employment tribunal.