Employment tribunals – your rights

Employment Tribunal Rules changed from 29th July 2013 and Employment Tribunal Fees were abolished and declared unlawful on 26th July 2017, so our article here has been updated to reflect this. Employment Tribunals hear employment disputes that have not been resolved in the workplace and their decision is legally binding. Employees can take a claim to an ET for any of the reasons listed below. Employment Tribunals in Northern Ireland are still called Industrial Tribunals. Workers and Freelancers have more limited circumstances to make a claim – we detail these below.

You are always advised to try to resolve your problem with your Employer before lodging a claim at ET. Both sides (employer and employee) can have unrealistic expectations of what will happen at an ET – Employees may want a chance to clear their name or force the employer to recognise what has happened to them and Employers may seek vindication or want to send a message to other employees. Both sides could be disappointed after a lengthy and sometimes distressing process.

From 6th April 2014 claims to a Tribunal must be submitted to Acas before they are lodged with the Tribunal. This ‘Pre-Claim Conciliation’ service is mandatory. Recent Tribunal cases (2015), upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal show that Tribunals will not favour employees who do not follow the conciliation procedure. In Cranwell v Cullen, the EAT said that a tribunal was right to reject a claim where the claimant had not contacted Acas (because she thought conciliation was impossible). The EAT said that the requirement to follow the conciliation procedure (to get a certificate) was strict, even when conciliation would be impossible.

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