The Employment Tribunal is an independent body, designed to resolve disputes between employers and employees over the rights they have.
As the business being taken to a Tribunal, you will be the ‘Respondent’ and the other party [i.e. the employee or former employee] will be the ‘Claimant.’ The Tribunal is separate to the Government and will listen to both your arguments and those of the Claimant before advising of their findings.
There are a number of reasons why you may be taken to a Tribunal however, the main areas are pay, discrimination and dismissal.
Employment Tribunals are less formal than a Court however, the matter is public and anybody may have access to attend.
There is a possibility you will be required to pay the Claimant compensation or even reinstate them to their original position if the Tribunal find in their favour (i.e. you lose your case). The Tribunal may also order you to pay a fine if you lose and your case has one or more “aggravating features”. A fine can range from £100 to £5,000. This particular calculation consists of 50% of the award made to the Claimant with a 50% deduction made if the bill is paid within 21 days of the decision. If you cannot reasonably pay this, the Tribunal will consider this before ordering the fine.
The Claimant must first commence early conciliation through Acas before they can issue a claim to the Employment Tribunal. Acas will effectively supervise in order to be an ‘intermediary’ or ‘go between’ for you and the Claimant. They will attempt to solve the issues during early conciliation, over an initial month long period. Their involvement will include them talking to both yourselves and the Claimant in order to attempt to find a common ground. If common ground is reached, settlement will be agreed and the case will not proceed to a Tribunal hearing.
If early conciliation is unsuccessful, Acas will produce a certificate for evidence that this attempt took place and the Claimant will then have to decide whether to proceed with the Tribunal claim. Irrespective of this, prior to attending the Tribunal, you may still utilise the conciliation services of Acas. This allows both the Claimant and yourselves to discuss the matters arising and attempt to come to an agreement (possibly in the form of a COT3 Agreement by way of a monetary offer) before having to incur costs and added stress at a Tribunal.
If the Claimant lodges a claim with the Tribunal, you will receive a letter and ‘response pack’ which you are then required to respond to (either by completing or downloading this and returning it or by completing the form online). You must respond to this within 28 days. If you fail to respond or request an extension, the Tribunal could make a decision without you being present.