In most cases, the deadline to issue proceedings in the employment tribunal will be three months less one day from the date of the act you are complaining of, e.g. dismissal, an act of discrimination, when you should have been paid. If your complaint relates to non-payment of a statutory redundancy payment or equal pay, you have six months in which to issue a claim.
Prior to issuing you need to contact the conciliation service ACAS to commence Early Conciliation (EC). EC is a free service designed to give individuals and employers a chance to resolve matters before proceedings are issued. If EC is unsuccessful you will be given a Certificate Number, which you will need to put on the employment tribunal claim form you submit to the tribunal. The actual deadline to commence a claim in the Tribunal will depend on when you start EC and the date the certificate is issued.
The Employment Tribunal system is entirely free and there are no fees to pay.
Depending on the type of claim, your case will either be heard by a specialist employment judge sitting alone, or by a panel comprising of an employment judge and two lay members (one from an employee, and one from a business background). Tribunals normally sit between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm, with an hour break for lunch. There are no wigs or gowns in the tribunal, although everyone is expected to dress smartly. In most situations, the hearing will be open to the public. Therefore, don’t be surprised if members of the public, law students or members of the press are seated in the room.
The tribunal will have copies of the agreed bundle of documents and the witness statements. Once each witness has been called to give their evidence, and the each party has had the opportunity to cross-examine the other party’s witnesses, the tribunal will ask each party to make their closing submissions. Submissions are a party's opportunity to summarise their case to the Tribunal. The judge (or panel) will then retire to consider their decision. Wherever possible, they will try to give their decision the same day. If this is not possible, e.g. because there is not enough time left in the day, the decision will be ‘reserved’ and communicated to the parties in writing at a later date.
Which? Legal can help
Which? Legal has a team of employment law experts on hand to advise you on your rights and how to making make a claim to an employment tribunal. We can also advise you on how to prepare for the tribunal, the documents you need to provide, and guide you step by step through the tribunal hearing process.