Interim relief

In some cases, an employee can apply for 'interim relief' alongside their main employment tribunal claim.

Interim relief is an award of either:

  • reinstatement of employment – when an employee gets their job back
  • compensation

It's used to prevent financial difficulty in the time before the employee's case has its full employment tribunal hearing.

An employee can only apply for interim relief in specific situations involving automatically unfair dismissal. Employment tribunals will only award interim relief if they decide the dismissal is likely to have been for the reason the employee is claiming.

Before applying

If you're an employee and want to apply for interim relief, you should get advice before making an application. You can:

Time limits

An application for interim relief must be made within 7 days of the 'effective date of termination'.

In almost all cases, this means either:

  • the last day of the employee's notice period
  • the date they were dismissed if their employer did not give them notice
For example, if an employee is dismissed without notice, the interim relief application must be made within 7 days of their last day of work.

Who can apply for interim relief

Only people legally classed as an employee can apply for interim relief.

An employee can only make an application for interim relief alongside certain unfair dismissal claims.

These are if the employee has been dismissed because they:

  • made a protected disclosure under whistleblowing legislation
  • carried out duties as a health and safety representative or a pension scheme trustee
  • acted as, or was, a candidate to be an employee representative in collective redundancy or TUPE
  • took part in duties or activities as a trade union representative
  • took part in activities relating to trade union recognition
  • asked for, or acted as, a companion in a disciplinary or grievance meeting
  • were on a trade union 'blacklist'

For help with understanding when an application for interim relief can be made, contact the Acas helpline.

If you're not sure whether you can make an application for interim relief, you might need to get legal advice.

How to apply for interim relief

Employees can apply for interim relief by completing form ET1, for making an employment tribunal claim.

If an employee is only applying for interim relief alongside an unfair dismissal claim, they do not need to notify Acas that they're making a claim to an employment tribunal.

If an employee is making other claims at the same time, for example a discrimination claim, they must notify Acas. The other claims are likely to be rejected by the employment tribunal if Acas has not been notified.

Find out more about making a claim to an employment tribunal

What happens after applying

After an employee has made an interim relief application, the employment tribunal will set a date to hear the claim.

The employment tribunal will notify the employer of the hearing date. The employer can attend the hearing and present their side. However, the tribunal will only take evidence about the reason for the dismissal.

At the hearing, the employment tribunal will:

  • look at the facts of the employee's claim
  • decide whether they're likely to win at the full hearing

Likely to win means having a 'pretty good chance', not just 'more likely than not'. Interim relief applications are usually about complex issues, so meeting the 'pretty good chance' threshold can be difficult.

If successful, the employment tribunal will protect the employment contract until the full hearing.

The employment tribunal will normally start with an order for reinstatement of employment, but the employer can object to this. If this happens, the employment tribunal is likely to make an order for compensation.

Example of an unsuccessful interim relief application

Alex was dismissed from work for poor performance. They believed that the dismissal was actually because they had made a whistleblowing disclosure about financial misconduct in their organisation.

Alex made a claim for unfair dismissal and applied for interim relief. The employment tribunal judge considered whether:

  • Alex had made a protected disclosure under whistleblowing legislation
  • it was likely that the dismissal was because of the disclosure

The judge decided there was not enough evidence for Alex's claim to have a good chance of success. The application for interim relief failed and the tribunal set a date to hear the unfair dismissal claim.

Example of a successful interim relief application

Robin and Jessie campaigned for their employer to recognise a trade union. When they were suddenly made redundant, they believed that their activity on behalf of the trade union was the reason.

They made unfair dismissal claims and applied for interim relief. They brought documentary evidence which showed:

  • there was no redundancy situation at their organisation
  • senior managers had described them as 'troublemakers' for supporting the trade union

The employment tribunal judge decided that it was likely they had been dismissed for activities relating to trade union recognition. The tribunal ordered their employer:

  • to reinstate them until the unfair dismissal claims could be heard
  • to give them back-pay for the time they had been out of work
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