Employment Tribunal guidance

January 8, 2013 by  
Filed under Work From Home

Employment Tribunals are tribunal non-departmental public bodies in England and Wales and Scotland which have statutory jurisdiction to hear many kinds of disputes between employers and employees. The most common disputes are concerned with unfair dismissal, redundancy payments and employment discrimination. The Tribunals are part of the UK tribunals system, administered by the Tribunals Service and regulated and supervised by the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council.

Although similar to a court employment tribunals are less formal, for example no one wears a wig or gown, and like a court they cannot give out legal advice. Almost all hearings are open to the public, and evidence will be given under oath or affirmation, and if anyone was to lie in court they can be convicted of perjury.

Employment Tribunals hear claims about matters to do with employment.

These include:

  • unfair dismissal
  • redundancy payments
  • discrimination

Judicial mediation

When a person makes an Employment Tribunal claim normally the process which is followed involves a Hearing taking place before an Employment Tribunal at which evidence is heard and legal arguments are made with a decision (judicial determination) then being made on the case.

The process is a formal one involving evidence being led from witnesses and cross examination, which is very similar to what happens in an ordinary court. Mediation provides an alternative way to resolve a dispute which does not involve going through the normal tribunal hearing process. It is a form of what is commonly referred to as ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution.



Employment at a glance

  • Employers and employees enter into contracts of employment that govern their rights and obligations. There are statutory requirements governing contracts and they need to be drafted carefully.
  • Employees are additionally entitled to a whole raft of statutory rights.
  • Many rights, such as the right not to be unfairly dismissed, are subject to qualifying criteria such as period of service. Other rights (such as the right to paid leave for example) are enjoyed by some categories of workers other than employees.
  • It is not sufficient to have grounds to dismiss an employee. It is necessary to follow a fair procedure and to take a decision which is reasonable in the circumstances.
  • Conduct, capability, redundancy and retirement are all potentially fair reasons for the dismissal of an employee.
  • Employees are entitled not to be discriminated against on unlawful grounds. These are known as “protected characteristics” in the Equality Act 2010 and are age, disability, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, and religion or belief.

General points on giving evidence

The prospect of giving evidence may seem a little daunting and it may seem as if you are under examination and being subjected to a memory test. This is not the case. The simple rule is to give a truthful answer rather than try to get the ‘right’ answer – it is quite proper to say that you do not know or cannot remember the answer to something if that is the truth. You can also ask the questioner to rephrase an unclear question, or to look at a document to refresh your memory before answering a question.

The employment judge should be addressed as ‘sir’ or ‘madam’. He will be taking a manuscript note of the evidence and will sometimes read his note back to you and ask you whether you think it is correct.

If the tribunal adjourns for a break or lunch while you are giving evidence you are not allowed to speak to any of the other witnesses or to your representative. You are not allowed to talk to anybody about the case until you have finished giving evidence and are no longer under oath. The employment judge will most likely remind you of this if you are in this position.



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