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Employment tribunals on the rise

Published: Wednesday 28th November 2018

Since fees for employment tribunals were scrapped last year, there has been a substantial rise in the number of employees seeking to take action against employers. Back in 2013, the UK government introduced the fees (between £390 and £1200) to prevent the system being abused. But the Supreme Court ruled that the government acted illegally by breaching EU and UK law. The charges were scrapped in July of 2017. As a result, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice, single claims lodged at employment tribunals increased by 90% between October and December 2017, compared to the same quarter in 2016.

Book with employment tribual written on with hammer and on court desk

While this is clearly good for those who feel they have been unfairly dismissed as result of disciplinary action, it’s also good for the workplace in general as more organisations are reviewing their employment practices to ensure they don’t become fall foul of the law and becomes subject to a tribunal. Many companies that shifted resources away from dealing with employee complaints are having to re-examine their policies in this regard.

The downside is that you’re making a claim against an employer, you may need to wait longer both for your application to be processed and to receive a hearing date.

Employers claim file being passed on

How to make a claim against an employer

The purpose of employment tribunals is to come to a legal ruling regarding employment disputes. Typical cases are brought as a result of unfair dismissal, redundancy, discrimination and unfair deductions in pay.

To make a claim, you will need to have worked for your employer for at least a year (two years if you started work with your current employer after 6th April 2012). Normally, the claim must be made no more than three months (minus one day) from the date the event occurred.

Before making a claim, you need to contact ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to start a conciliation process. If this fails, you can then decide to progress with your claim. An adviser will examine your claim and ensure you meet the conditions. Weighing up the evidence on both sides to assess your chances of success.

The hearing

Employment tribunal figure

Hearings are usually held in individual tribunal rooms with three members of a tribunal panel. These consist of an employment judge, an employer representative and an employee representative. Most hearings are public so you have the opportunity to experience one first hand before taking your own case forward.

It’s worth noting that you can withdraw your claim in writing at any point in the process. However, if your employer has already spent money to contest the claim, you may be required to pay costs. Of course, if you agree a settlement through ACAS, then you won’t have to go to a hearing. Making a claim can be stressful. But the system is designed to help you and the employer come to reach an early settlement.

Find a great employer

The removal of employment tribunal fees is good news for employees, but it makes sense to thoroughly research potential employers during your job search to find a reputable company that shares your values. From jobs in London and jobs in Manchester, to jobs in Sheffield and jobs in Reading, find the best jobs with the most ethical organisations on Zoek.

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