No employer wants to find themselves facing an employment tribunal, but once a claim is submitted there is nothing a business can do except follow the process which can be long and costly.
Tribunal claims are free for an employee or worker to pursue, and with online forms, guidance and telephone support available, it’s a relatively simple process for an individual to follow without taking any legal advice.
The role of Acas
Acas provides free advice to employees (and employers) about their workplace rights. There is a mandatory early conciliation process an employee must follow before submitting their tribunal claim. The aim is to attempt to resolve the issue without the parties having to proceed to tribunal. The role of Acas is to act as an impartial conciliator, attempting to broker an amicable solution.
Ultimately thousands of cases proceed beyond the early intervention of Acas, with the number of claims submitted each year steadily climbing – they totalled over 121,000 in 2018/19.
Only those employees with 2 years’ service or more can bring an unfair dismissal claim, but there are many other claims which don’t require any minimum length of service including discrimination, collective consultation & some TUPE claims to name a few..
What sort of claims could I face?
Only those employees with 2 years’ service or more can bring an unfair dismissal claim, but there are many other claims which don’t require any minimum length of service including discrimination, collective consultation, some TUPE claims, unlawful deduction from wages and even some automatic unfair dismissal claims where the termination is connected to certain circumstances, like trade union activities.
Exposure to employers from employment tribunal claims can be high – unfair dismissal attracts up to a year’s pay and discrimination claims are unlimited. Managing the defence of a claim can be time consuming and costly, but not involving a specialist legal team can be the difference between success and failure, or thousands in compensation.
When a win is still a lose
The downside for the employer is that even where they successfully defend a tribunal claim they will still find themselves footing their own legal costs, which can easily reach tens of thousands of pounds. The employment tribunal system does not provide for the successful party to recover their fees from the loser as in other legal forums.
Changes to Employment Tribunals in 2020 and onwards
On 8 October 2020 the government amended the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure to increase the capacity of employment tribunals to hear claims due to backlog the pandemic has created. The new changes came into force in December 2020 to help speed up claims. You can read more about the changes here.
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