If you have an issue at work that cannot be resolved by the management, it may be necessary to take it to an employment tribunal. It is worth knowing how this works so that if you do need to take your employer to an employment tribunal, you know what to expect.


Before a trial is arranged, you should try everything to resolve it. Ideally, you should have brought up an issue with the HR manager. Whether it is a pay dispute, discrimination, or not properly dealing with a workplace accident, it is worth doing what you can in order to allow the employer to deal with it in-house.

If this fails, then you should go to a legal representative and discuss your issue. They can then look at the issues involved and whether or not you have a claim and if you can (or should) pursue it further.

What happens

In order to take a claim to trial, you need to fill in the ET1 form (this is available online or can be sent via your legal representative). With this form, you need to give details on what happened. You don’t need to use formal or legal language, but it is worth seeking consultation before filling it in so that you can clarify why your case should be taken to the tribunal. It is important to do this straight away, as any claims that arrive late will not be considered.

A tribunal will usually be made of three people who are the tribunal panel, made up of a judge, a representative of employers, and a representative of employees. While it is similar to a court, it is usually in an industrial building and doesn’t tend to be as formal.

There aren’t a lot of costs involved in making a claim. However, if the case is obviously not going to succeed, then you may have to pay, or in a breach of contract case, there is a risk of a counter-claim by the employer. In this instance, you would expect to pay the costs involved. There is also the chance you could end up paying costs if you decide to withdraw your claim at the last minute, so you should check with your representative if you wish to withdraw at any point.

How long you have to claim

Usually, you only have three months from the point of your dismissal/time of complaint in order to apply for a tribunal (this is defined as the time you are let go after a period of notice has been served.) There are exceptions; for example, a period of attempted early conciliation will be considered.

We can help

If you are unsure about whether or not you can make a claim, it is worth talking to a specialist who can guide you through the likelihood of reaching a positive verdict, as well as whether or not you should settle before taking the case to a tribunal. For more information or to discuss your circumstances in more detail, please contact us today.