A former employee can potentially take their former employer to an employment tribunal by issuing a claim in unfair dismissal and/or wrongful dismissal.
A claim is presented to an employment tribunal using form ET1. The former employee will include the substantive points to let the tribunal understand the grounds for the dispute and let the former employer know what the claim is about. The ET1 will explain to the tribunal and to the former employer how the former employee has established that they have a claim by referring to their circumstances. Claimants will have to prove their claim which may involve sexual harassment, race discrimination, disability discrimination, religious discrimination and/or a claim for a redundancy payment. An ET1 can be completed online or by post. There are strict time limits for bringing a claim in an employment tribunal and the general rule is that you have three months less a day to bring your claim from the date the contract was terminated/the date of dismissal.
Once the tribunal has received the ET1 the tribunal will consider the claim and then write to the employer and invite the employer to reply. The employer will be permitted to reply to each point in turn and will indicate which points are agreed (for instance the employee’s start date of employment & termination date of employment) and which allegations of the Claimant are denied.
Once the parties have submitted their respective ET1/ET3 the tribunal may list the matter for a ‘preliminary hearing’. This is an interim hearing to either determine administrative issues (for instance whether further tribunal directions are required to prepare the case prior to the tribunal hearing) or to determine preliminary issues such as whether a part of the claim or the response should be struck out.
The stages of disclosure and then witness statements will usually follow and the former employee will be ordered to provide a schedule of loss setting out their losses and what they hope to recover at the employment tribunal. The Claimant will also need to be able to show that they have kept their losses to a minimum (i.e. mitigated their losses).
At all stages the parties should consider settlement based on the respective strengths and weaknesses of the claim/response. If settlement is not achieved the matter will proceed to a final hearing where the witnesses will be asked to attend to present their evidence. The employment tribunal will hear the submissions by the legal representatives representing the claimant and the respondent and then the tribunal will prepare the judgment which will be legally binding on the parties. The employment tribunal then may, depending on whether there is enough time on the day of the hearing, move on to remedies and decide whether the former employer should have to pay compensation to the former employee. The decision as to how much compensation is payable is sometimes left to be determined at a ‘Remedies Hearing’ where a decision regarding compensation will be made.
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