The enforcement of employment rights is most commonly done by making a claim to an employment tribunal. Before making a claim you need to consider some important points:
The time limit for making a claim to an Employment Tribunal will vary depending on the type of right and the facts of the claim. However in most cases a claim must be made within three months of the date on which the claim arises.
Before a claim is made to the Employment Tribunal the employers internal grievance or appeal processes must normally be followed. The ACAS Code of Practice applies to disciplinary and grievance proceedings. Where it is not followed compensation may be adjusted to penalise the party who is responsible for the non-compliance.
From 6 May 2014 ACAS need to be notified of a potential claim to the Employment Tribunal through the Early Conciliation process and a claim cannot proceed without a certificate of completion from this process.
NOTE: the time limit for application to the Employment Tribunal will still run from the date of the claim arising. Notification to ACAS for Early Conciliation should be made within the time limit even if the grievance or appeal process is still in progress.
Making a Claim to an Employment Tribunal
Whilst claims to Employment Tribunals are relatively easy to make you need to consider that you are going to be involved in a legal process. It is likely to last many months and can be quite time consuming as well as stressful. You will need to present evidence to prove your claim and it is likely you will be questioned on your evidence by your employer and the tribunal.
Before making a claim you will need to have completed the Early Conciliation process (see above).
A claim can then be made to the Employment Tribunal by filling in the claim form which is known as the 'ET1'.
A fee will need to be paid to issue the claim which will be either £160 or £250 depending on the claim. Applications can be made to reduce the fee depending on income. Further fees will be payable for a hearing of the case which will be either £230 or £950 depending on the case.
The ET1 form needs to set out the facts of the claim that is being made and they type of claim that is being made.
An Employment Tribunal claim is a form of legal process and it is up to the Claimant to prove the facts of what has happened (on the balance of probability) and that the facts amounts to a breach of a legal right.
The Employment Tribunal process is governed by a set of rules of procedure.
These rules describe the powers that the tribunal has in managing the case and are very important to be aware of.
In the vast majority of cases there is no risk of legal costs being awarded against Claimant's who bring a claim even if they lose on all their claims. However tribunals can order that costs be paid where a Claimant has brought a case that has no legal basis or where they have been unreasonable in the way they have conducted the case.
It is unfortunately common for lawyers representing employers to use a threat of potential costs applications as a way of detering a claim. If you receive a letter making reference to costs being sought by your employer you should not be deterred from making or continuing your claim but you should carefully consider what the costs risk is before you proceed further.