Your employer’s legal obligations when you file a tribunal claim
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If you have decided to take your employer to an Employment Tribunal - or you’re just thinking about it - it’s important to fully understand what you can expect from your employer.
Have you gone through the correct process?
In most cases, if you’re unhappy with a situation at work and want to make a Tribunal claim, you should follow your employer’s internal procedures first. A lot of the time, this means you need to raise a formal grievance before progressing to Tribunal.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of your grievance, you can appeal the decision. Valla has a Grievance Appeal Letter template you can use. Or you can move on to ACAS early conciliation. If this is not successful, you can submit an ET1 Claim Form.
What your employer must do after you’ve submitted the ET1
✅ Respond to your claim
If you do not resolve your issues at early conciliation, ACAS will give you a certificate number for your Employment Tribunal claim (the ET1 form). This claim form is where you should outline the details of your claim against your employer.
Once you submit your ET1 form, your employer is legally required to respond to this claim within 28 days, or they can ask for an extension.
Their response is called the ET3 form, and will be sent to you via letter or email. If they do not respond to your claim by the deadline, the Tribunal can rule in your favour without a hearing.
✅ Co-operate with you at the Preliminary Hearings
Once your employer submits the ET3, the Tribunal will give you a copy of it and tell you what to do next. For a lot of cases, you will get a date in the Employment Tribunal for a Preliminary Hearing. In this hearing, the Tribunal sets out the timetable of the case and any details of the case that need discussing. If you have a complicated case, there may be more than one Preliminary Hearing.
Before the first Preliminary Hearing, you and your employer should try to agree dates for key events, for example when to:
- send Disclosure Documents to each other
- exchange Witness Statements
- agree which documents the Tribunal will use as evidence (the Hearing Bundle)
- hold the Final Hearing
(Not sure what some of these mean? Check out our glossary.)
Some of the dates, such as when to hold the Final Hearing, will depend on the Tribunal’s availability.
At the Preliminary Hearing, the Judge will confirm the key dates by giving Case Management Orders (these are formal instructions given by the Tribunal). They will usually follow up in writing to confirm these, but this might take a while, so it’s worth taking notes during the hearing (or asking a friend to).
✅ Comply with the Case Management Orders
The Judge will give Case Management Orders at the Preliminary Hearing and throughout the case.
You and your employer need to comply with the Case Management Orders properly and on time. If your employer misses a deadline, they risk their response being “struck out” - if this happens then you could win your case without going to a Final Hearing.
Both you and your employer are allowed to apply for extensions if you need more time.
✅ Give you the documents that you've requested ("Disclosure Documents")
In most cases, the Tribunal will make an order that asks you and your employer to give each other any documents that are relevant to the case. Read the Case Management Orders carefully, as these will explain exactly what you need to send to your employer. Your Disclosure Documents may include:
- emails or chat transcripts
- meeting notes or documents
- calendar entries
- phone recordings / transcripts
✅ Copy you in on all communications to the tribunal
You and your employer must copy each other into communications to the Tribunal (for example requesting an extension to a deadline).
✅ Work with you to agree the Hearing Bundle
Before your hearing date at Tribunal, you and your employer must agree which documents will be used as evidence. This is called the "Hearing Bundle" and it can be hundreds of pages long. You, your employer, the witnesses, and the Tribunal judge/panel will all work from these documents during the hearing.
The Hearing Bundle should include all of the documents that were shared at the Disclosure stage, which both you and your employer agree are relevant to the issues in the case.
It should have an index at the front listing the documents, usually in chronological order.
It is very common for the court to ask your employer to do the work of putting this bundle together, since they typically have more resources.
✅ Comply with the court's orders if you win your case - or appeal
If you win your case, the Tribunal might take a break to see if you and your employer can agree on a remedy, or they might make their own orders. This might happen in the Final Hearing or in a separate Remedy Hearing.
What is a remedy?
A remedy is the compensation awarded if your claim is successful. This normally consists of financial compensation but can also include non-monetary remedies, like your employer having to reinstate you.
If your employer doesn’t pay you compensation that you are due, then you can find out more about enforcing the award from the UK Government website. Your employer can be fined if they do not pay.
Be aware that your employer could appeal the decision made against them, in which case they won’t need to comply with remedy orders straight away.
✅ Co-operate with the appeal process if you lose
If you lose your case, you can apply to the Employment Appeal Tribunal for an appeal within 42 days.
If you appeal, your employer must follow the Employment Appeal Tribunal's orders for that process.
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