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When a problem at work has not been resolved through meetings, mediation or by settlement agreement, employees may be able to make a claim against their employer at an employment tribunal.

What types of cases go to employment tribunal?

Employment law cases relating to things such as discrimination, dismissal, redundancy and wages are all regularly heard at employment tribunals.

What is an employment tribunal like?

Similar to going to Court, an employment tribunal hearing is quite formal and is presided over by a judge.

Do I need a solicitor at an employment tribunal?

Many people choose to have a solicitor to represent them at an employment tribunal and/or to prepare all or parts of their case beforehand.  However, you are also able to represent yourself.

Are there any employment tribunal rules I need to be aware of?

There is no dress code as such, but you should dress smartly and avoid casual clothing such as trainers, jeans, t-shirts and hats.  You should also make sure that your mobile phone is switched off and that you don’t take any food or drink into the tribunal room.

Where will the employment tribunal be held?

Employment tribunals are usually held in office buildings where there are individual tribunal rooms and waiting rooms.  Whilst you will not be expected to share a waiting room with your employer, you may have to share this space with other employees who are attending separate tribunals.

Who else will be at the employment tribunal?

As well as you and your legal representative (if you choose to have one); your employer and their solicitor, there is a tribunal panel, which usually consists of an employment judge (alone) or with 2 others if discrimination is involved; who are normally drawn from either an employer organisation or an employee organisation.

It is a public hearing, so it is also possible for you to take a friend or family member with you into the tribunal room.  They will be able to sit behind you but must be quiet and not say anything to interrupt the tribunal.

What do I need to do when I arrive at an employment tribunal?

You should arrive at least 30 minutes before your hearing is due to begin.  You will need to check in at reception and if you have a solicitor representing you, they will go through any new information and will let you know if you have been offered a last minute settlement.  If you were to negotiate and agree on a last minute settlement, this would mean that the hearing would not need to go ahead.

Can I negotiate a last minute settlement myself?

If you do not have legal representation at your employment tribunal, you will need to be prepared to discuss and negotiate a potential settlement yourself.  In this case, it is best to have at least spoken with an employment lawyer before going to a hearing, to discuss your options and what a reasonable settlement figure would be.

What is the process at an employment tribunal hearing?

The tribunal panel will introduce themselves and the judge will decide whether he hears yours or your employer’s case first.  The panel will read the witness statements and consider some of the agreed bundle of papers before the hearing commences.

If starting first, your employer’s solicitor will cross examine you by asking you questions about what you have said.  When it is your employer’s turn, their witnesses will each be cross examined, but by your legal representative this time.  If you don’t have a legal representative, the judge will invite you to ask the witnesses any questions.

Each side will then be invited to give a closing submission, which should be used to sum up your evidence and your legal arguments, before the panel decides who was won the case.

When do I find out if I have won my employment tribunal case?

At the end of the employment tribunal, your tribunal panel will let you know whether they will be making a decision about who has won the hearing that day, or at a later date.  If it is the same day, they will leave the room to decide together and deliver the result when they return.  If it is at a later date, they will write to you with their decision.

Legal advice and representation for employment tribunals

Employment tribunals can be intimidating places, so many people find that having someone who is experienced in employment law on their side can be a huge support.  Whether you decide to use a legal representative at your hearing, or whether you choose to go it alone, speak to an employment law specialist who will be happy to answer your questions and guide you with advice about what to expect, and when it may be best to settle.  You can then make an informed decision about whether you would like them to represent you at your employment tribunal hearing, or to help you with part or all of your case.

Bray & Bray have three main offices across Leicestershire, feel free to phone or pop in to talk to our solicitors.