The employment tribunals are an independent judicial body established to resolve disputes between employers and employees over employment rights. The tribunal will hear claims about employment matters such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, wages and redundancy payments.
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.
It is often better that the parties involved try to resolve the matter either informally or formally before a claim goes to the tribunal. If despite trying to resolve an issue the employee feels they are likely to make a claim either the employee or employer can ask for an Acas conciliator to speak to both parties and try to help reach an agreement, this is called pre-claim conciliation.
Once a claim to the employment tribunal has been made and accepted it will be given a case number, and a copy will be sent to the respondent (employer) together with a response form on which they must provide information to say whether they do not agree with your claim and, if so why.
In most cases a copy of the claim and response form will be sent to Acas. An Acas conciliator will act as an independent, impartial third party who will try to resolve the claim without the need to go to a tribunal.
In most cases, a claim should be made within three months of either the date when employment ended or when the issue that the complaint is about happened.
Claimants who wish to bring a claim to the tribunal or appeal tribunal will have to pay a fee. An initial fee will be paid to issue a claim and a further fee will be payable if the claim proceeds to hearing. There are two levels of fee which will depend on the type of claim. Further information is available from Ministry of Justice - Employment Tribunal guidance.