Employment tribunals are a system of courts that have authority to deal with a number of different types of employment law claims and disputes arising between an employer and their employees.
Tribunals (originally known as industrial tribunals) are part of the court system like the courts that hear civil and criminal cases. Tribunals are a different tier of the judicial system and are operated as a part of the Ministry of Justice by HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
Most claims have to be brought within three months of the conduct complained of, or, in unfair dismissals, the effective date of termination of the contract or the last day of working. A claim for a redundancy payment must be brought within six months of the relevant date.
Claims presented out of time may still proceed if the applicant can persuade the tribunal to extend the time for presentation. The applicant must satisfy the tribunal that it was not reasonably practicable to present the complaint within the initial time prescribed and that it was reasonable to do so in the time within which the complaint was actually presented. This clause applies to unfair dismissal claims. In sex and race discrimination claims the tribunal has the power to allow a claim which is out of time where it considers that it is “just and equitable” to do so.
A claim has to be made in writing. Claims must be submitted using the ET1 form. It is obtained from the offices of the tribunal service or can be downloaded from their website and printed and sent by post, or it can be submitted online.
ACAS Early Conciliation Scheme
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (“ACAS”) is a Government body established under the Employment Protection Act 1975 to promote the improvement of industrial relations in particular by the settlement of trade disputes.
In relation to most matters that can come before employment tribunals ACAS may conciliate, and in 2014 the ACAS Early Conciliation Scheme was launched for employment tribunal claims.
Claimants must have provided certain information to ACAS and a certificate must be issued to them as to whether or not settlement is possible, before the claimant’s case can be presented to an employment tribunal.
The limitation period which applies to employment tribunal claims is extended by up to one calendar month (with one extension allowed of up to 14 days if the conciliation officer considers that there is a reasonable prospect of achieving a settlement before the expiry of the extended period and has the consent of both parties) to allow for the early conciliation process to take place.
Bishopsgate Law employment lawyers provide independent legal advice about employment settlement agreements, and represent employees and employers at employment tribunals.
ACAS Early Conciliation Scheme (ACAS website)