Employment TribunalsMaking a claim against an employer if you have been treated unlawfully

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Employment Tribunals

Employment, Employment Tribunals, Making a Claim Against Employer

There are unfortunately times when our relationship with our employers break down for various reasons. If you think your employer, a potential employer or a trade union has treated you unlawfully you may be able to make a claim against them.

To be successful in bringing a claim for unlawful treatment you would have to prove the following:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Discrimination (race, sex, disability)
  • Unfair deductions from your pay

You usually have to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal within 3 months of your employment ending or the problem happening.

The Employment Tribunal is an independent body and will consider all the evidence provided by you (the 'claimant') and the person you're making a claim against (the 'respondent') before making a decision.

For full details of the Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure 2013 which sets out detailed legal rules on:

Starting a claim | Responding to a claim | Contract claims | Case management orders | Hearings | Withdrawing cases | The tribunal's decision | Costs orders | Delivering documents

Please go to The Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure

Before bringing a claim before the Employment Tribunal check to see if there is a grievance policy within the firm you work for and follow that procedure first.


You must tell the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) that you intend to make a claim to the tribunal.

It may be that if you use ACAS's FREE early conciliation service full details of which you can find at Early Conciliation, you will be able to resolve the matter with your employer without going to the Tribunal. If early conciliation doesn't work, Acas will send you an early conciliation certificate, a copy of which you will need to send to the Tribunal when bringing a claim against the "Respondent"

Once you receive your certificate, you'll have the same amount of time to make your claim as you did before you started conciliation.

Example: You have 2 months left to make your claim. You then start your early conciliation, which takes 6 weeks and isn't successful. Acas then sends you your early conciliation certificate - you will then have 2 months left to make your claim.

For more information from ACAS telephone them at:

Telephone: 0300 123 1100
Textphone: 18001 0300 123 1100
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm


Before you make a claim to the Employment Tribunal we would recommend that you read the Guidance for making a claim which you can find at Making a claim to an Employment Tribunal. This provides a very detailed explanation of what you are required to do. If you want to use our checking service to check whether you have filled in the form correctly please contact us on 07940 384785 or send us e-mail.

You can make a claim to the employment tribunal online. If you want to make a claim online then go to Make a claim to an employment tribunal

If you prefer to send you claim to the Tribunal by post you can download and fill in a claim form, the claim form can be accessed at Employment Tribunal Claim form.

You do not have to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal, even if it says so on the form.

You need to send your completed form to one of the following addresses, depending on where you were working.

Employment Tribunal Central Office (England and Wales)
PO Box 10218

Employment Tribunal Central Office (Scotland)
PO Box 27105
G2 9JR


Your employer, a potential employer or a trade union "The respondent" usually has to reply to your claim with their version of the events, in writing within 28 days of getting your claim form.

Once they've replied, the tribunal will decide whether there will be a full hearing or a preliminary hearing in relation to your case. The Tribunal may decide that they initially want to proceed with a preliminary hearing to decide on things like:

  • Whether part or all of your claim can go ahead
  • The date and time of a hearing
  • How long the hearing should take


You will need to prepare your document to support your claim and you can ask for copies of documents from "the respondent" and they can also request documents from you.

Examples of documents which may be requested include:

  • A contract of employment
  • Pay slips
  • Details of your pension scheme
  • Notes from relevant meetings you attended at work with Human Resources or your Manager etc

Usually the tribunal will send an order to you and "the Respondent" setting out a timetable of when you should do various things i.e. exchange documents, exchange Statements etc.

You will also be sent a letter telling you how many copies of each document to bring to the hearing.


You can bring witnesses to the hearing to support your claim if they can give evidence which is directly relevant to your case.

If you ask a witness to attend and they don't want to, you can ask the tribunal to order them to come. You must apply in writing to the tribunal office dealing with your case, giving:

  • The name and address of the witness
  • Details of what the witness may be able to say and how it will help your case
  • The reason the witness has refused to attend (if they gave you one)

In the majority of cases you will be responsible for paying the witness's expenses.


Cases are normally held at the Employment Tribunal office closest to where you worked.

You must take all the documents you are relying on support your case. Remember this is your opportunity to prove you case and it is your responsibility to ensure that you have all the supporting evidence to hand. To be on the safe side, take both paper copies and if you have prepared documents on a computer download them onto a USB stick or take your computer with you to the Tribunal. You do not have to attend the tribunal alone and you can take friend, family member, or lawyer with you. A member of our team at Affordable Law for you could accompany you to the Tribunal.

You will not be able to claim for either yours or any other person's expenses who goes with you to the Tribunal.


You will present your case to the tribunal - If you prefer someone else can do this for you, for example a lawyer, friend or family member. A member of our team could present your case to the Tribunal for you. After you have presented your case against "the Respondent" they will then have their opportunity to present their case against you.

Unless your case is about unfair dismissal you will normally give evidence first and you will be able to call witnesses to give evidence.

During the course of your presenting your claim you will usually be asked questions by:

  • The Judge
  • The respondent
  • Two other tribunal members (only in certain cases)

Once both you and the Respondent have presented your cases you will be sent the decision in the post a few days or weeks after the hearing. Sometimes you can be given a decision at the hearing.


If you win your case, the tribunal can order the Respondent to do certain things within a specific time frame, i.e. 28 day, depending on the type of case. e.g.

  • Paying you compensation
  • Paying you any witness expenses you've paid
  • Improving your working conditions
  • Giving you your job back, if appropriate

If you get compensation, the amount can depend on:

  • The type of case - there are limits on certain cases
  • How much money you've lost because of the respondent's actions
  • Your age, length of service and salary


If the Respondent does not pay you etc within the time set down by Court you initially need to contact the Respondent to find out why.

If they still don't pay you, you can ask to have them fined. You can also ask a court to force them to pay.

You can't do either of these things if the respondent has appealed, or is about to. They have 42 days to appeal.


If the Respondents are not appealing the Tribunal's decision and continue to refuse to comply with the Court's order to:

  • Paying you compensation
  • Paying you any witness expenses you've paid
  • Improving your working conditions
  • Giving you your job back, if appropriate

Then you can use the penalty enforcement form which you can access at Employment tribunal: penalty enforcement. Once completed you should send the form to the address on the form or ETPenalties@bis.gsi.gov.uk.

The respondent will get a warning notice giving them 28 days to pay you. If they don't they'll have to pay a fine.

You can still get a court to force them to pay.


You can use the Fast Track scheme to send a High Court Enforcement Officer - similar to a bailiff - to demand payment from the respondent.

It costs £66, which you get back from the Respondent when they pay you.

You will need to Fill in the Fast Track Enforcement form which you can access at I have an Employment or an Employment Appeal Tribunal award but the respondent has not paid (or the Acas settlement form) which you can access at Application for an order to allow enforcement of a decision or an ACAS settlement (Form COT3) that does not require permission to proceed, (if your case was settled before a hearing) and send it to the address on the form.

You can also ask the local county court to send an enforcement officer to get the money from the respondent. This costs £44.

If you use this method you will need to fill in an application to enforce an award form which you can locate at Application for an order to allow enforcement of a decision... and send it with a copy of the tribunal's decision to your local county court.


You can ask the tribunal to reconsider the decision (or 'judgment') if you lose your case.

You must write to the tribunal office that dealt with your case within 14 days of getting the decision, explaining why you want the decision to be reconsidered.

You will need to give a good reason for your request e.g.

  • The tribunal made a mistake in the way it reached its decision
  • You weren't told about the hearing, or weren't at the hearing
  • There's new evidence


You can also appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal if you think the Tribunal made a LEGAL mistake.

You can appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) if you think a legal mistake was made in an employment tribunal case. For example, you could appeal if you consider that the members of the Tribunal:

  • Got the law wrong
  • Didn't apply the correct law
  • Had no evidence to support their decision
  • Was unfairly biased towards the other party


You will need to ask the Employment Tribunal the reasons for their decision, if you haven't already been provided with them. You can continue your appeal while you wait for them.


For full details of the rules when appealing an Employment Tribunal's decision please go to Practice Direction (Employment Appeal Tribunal Procedure) 2013


You must appeal within 42 days of the date that either:

  • The decision was sent to you
  • The reasons were sent to you (but only if the Employment Tribunal didn't provide reasons at the hearing or you asked for the reasons within 14 days of the decision being sent to you)

Your appeal must arrive by 4pm on the final day.

You can ask for an appeal to be considered even if it's late, but extensions are rarely given, and you must have a good reason.


You will need to fill in a Notice of Appeal form which you can access at Notice of Appeal From Decision of Employment Tribunal, with the supporting documents listed on the form and send the form to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) office by email, fax or post.

You don't have to pay a fee to make an appeal.


Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
Telephone: 020 7273 1041
Fax: 01264 785 028

Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)
Second Floor
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square

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