Employees often encounter problems at the workplace, and dealing with them can be challenging. The idea of discrimination and unfair dismissal is daunting because it can take a toll on more than your job. The entire situation is tormenting as you lose your job, income, professional reputation, and self-esteem. You may try the hardest to sort out the problem, but things do not always work in your favor.
Thankfully, you can claim to an employment tribunal to get help. Whether you have been discriminated against, unfairly dismissed, or not received the right amount, the claim can address your woes. But these claims are not as simple as they sound. Knowing all about them before going ahead gets you in a good place. Here are some facts every employee must know about employment tribunal claims.
Understand your eligibility
Eligibility is perhaps the most complicated aspect of the process. The first thing you need to do is your eligibility to claim because only employees can make some, while workers can also make others. For example, only an employee can claim unfair dismissal or seek a redundancy payment. It is crucial to understand which category you come in. You can check the government resources to get a fair idea of the rights of employees and workers. Even better, consult an expert adviser to know your rights and options and ensure that you are not taken for a ride.
Check your job timelines
You may have to follow some job timelines to qualify for some claims. Essentially, the qualifying period refers to the length of time you have worked for the employer. For example, you can claim unfair dismissal only if you have been in employment for two years. Conversely, there is no qualifying period if dismissal is automatically unfair. You can go through resources to check the reasons considered automatically unfair. Talk to an expert if you are not sure about the qualifying period in your case.
Stay ahead of the deadline
Like any other legal process, employment tribunal claims have a deadline. A period of 3 months less 1 day after the wrongful event is the deadline for early conciliation in most cases. After applying for early conciliation, you can claim it within one month. While claiming equal pay or redundancy pay, you can start early conciliation within 6 months less 1 day. In rare cases like dismissal for whistleblowing or health and safety, you can even claim to get paid until the case is decided. Things can get complicated when making multiple ones because you may have different timelines for each of them. Once again, seeking advice from an expert is the best way to proceed.
Understand the costs of the process
At this stage, you will probably want to know how much the process will cost. The good thing is that you do not have to pay anything to the Employment Tribunal in the name of a fee. Claimants had to do it before July 2017, but the government abolished the fees after the court ruled them unlawful. But you must understand the Employment tribunal costs in terms of energy and time. The process can be stressful and long as it takes months to get a hearing. Although you do not need a lawyer for the process, you can be in a better place by getting advice from an expert. Luckily, you can find an organization or approach your trade union for guidance.
Prep for the claim
You cannot lodge an Employment Tribunal claim right away, rather you have to prepare for it. The prep includes a process called early conciliation, where you have to inform The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) about the case. An independent Acas conciliator attempts to resolve the differences between both parties through an impartial discussion. Typically, the discussion period is up to a month, though it can be 14 days shorter or longer according to the circumstances. The time limit for the tribunal claim is extended during this period. Acas closes the process and provides an Acas Early Conciliation Reference Number for the case if discussions fail. You will need this unique reference number to get started with the tribunal process.
Assess the strength of your case
It always makes sense to assess the strength of your case before going ahead. You will have a better idea about choosing between claiming and settling. An employment tribunal will check the facts and apply legal tests to make a decision when deciding your claim. So make sure you have valid facts and evidence to support them. For example, you can prove unpaid wages and holiday pay with wage slips or timesheets. Things can get tricky in claims like unfair dismissal and discrimination. Facts are harder to prove for both sides. It is better to get advice on strengthening your claim effectively. Do not underestimate your employer as they will have a separate set of evidence to prove their side of the story.
Consider the likelihood of compensation
You must also understand whether the employer is likely to pay compensation if you win. Even people who get favorable judgments may not receive their payments in full. Employers fail to do it on the pretext of financial difficulty. Bigger companies are more likely to clear compensation awards promptly and in full. But do not expect the same from a small business. You can check the employer history of employment tribunal cases and compensation payments to understand your chances better.
At this stage, you can go ahead with the process. But make sure you have clarity about the steps. You will have to lodge a claim on an ET1 form by providing the factual allegations and legal complaints. The tribunal checks it and sends the form to your employer after accepting it. The employer has to submit its formal response within 28 days. They may resist it fully or partially together with the grounds. The best you can do is provide evidence and take a solid stand to get the compensation you deserve.