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Employment tribunals

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.

Employment Tribunals are less formal than a court, for example no one wears a wig or gown. However, like a court, tribunals cannot give out legal advice, almost all hearings are open to the public, and evidence will be given under oath or affirmation.


Before lodging an Employment Tribunal claim, Acas must be notified first and this can be done through Early Conciliation. An independent, impartial Acas Conciliator will then attempt to help both parties to resolve their differences. Whilst these discussions are taking place the time limit for making a tribunal claim is extended. The Early Conciliation period can be up to a month initially, and can be shorter or up to 14 days longer according to need.

Experience shows that resolving a dispute through conciliation is faster, cheaper and less stressful than going to the tribunal. However, in some cases Early Conciliation will not resolve the dispute, so we will bring it to a close. Evidence that Acas has been notified will be provided in the form of a unique Acas Early Conciliation Reference Number.
We can provide further conciliation help before a tribunal claim is presented if both parties want it, and we will offer our services again as or when an application is made to the tribunal. Wherever possible, the same conciliator will try to help the parties.

More information is available from Early Conciliation.


All claims made to the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeals Tribunal are liable to a fee or an application for a fee remission. Fees are payable in advance and there are two levels of fees depending on the type of claim.

Fee type Type A claimType B claim
Issue fee£160£250
Hearing fee£230£950

Type A claims are generally claims for sums of money due on termination of employment such as payment in lieu of notice, unpaid wages, redundancy payments etc, or for unpaid holiday pay or unlawful deductions. Type B claims will relate to more complex claims such as unfair dismissal, discrimination and equal pay claims. For lodging an appeal the issue fee is £400 and the hearing fee of £1,200, and this is regardless of the type of claim.

Financial penalties on employers who lose at tribunal

The Employment Tribunal will be able to order losing employers to pay a penalty on top of any award made to the claimant. These penalties will be payable to the Secretary of State if the tribunal finds the employer has breached the employees' employment rights and has "one or more aggravating feature". The minimum amount will be £100 and no more than £5,000, the amount shall be 50% of the amount of compensation awarded with a 50% discount for employers who pay within 21 days of the tribunal's decision. The tribunal will look at the employer's ability to pay in deciding whether to order the employer to pay a penalty.

Employment Tribunals: An Insider's Guide, 25 July, Sandy Park Conference Centre, Exeter

The essential event for HR professionals & people managers

Acas South West has teamed up with 3PB Barristers to deliver an essential Employment Tribunal masterclass for HR practitioners and people managers that will help you avoid common mistakes and show you strategies that can lead to a successful conclusion.

Get top tips and unique insight from Acas conciliators and leading barristers on handling Employment Tribunals at every stage of the process.

Experience the drama of an Employment Tribunal hearing without the risk or stress

Discover the common mistakes that can lose cases and find out the strategies to bring issues to a successful conclusion - through Acas conciliation or at a hearing.

For further information and booking details visit our event page.

Please note: we are expecting this event to sell out quickly, so book early to secure your place.

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