Employment tribunals: How to start a claim and complete the ET1 claim form

In this article we explain how to complete the on line ‘ET1’ – employment tribunal claim form – step by step. The form itself can be accessed on the gov.uk website. The headings we use are the same headings as used on the form, and we have given some guidance as to which answers to provide.

What steps should I take before completing the employment tribunal claim form?

1. You need to have met all the necessary and very strict, deadlines to make an employment tribunal claim (see our article on Employment tribunal claims: time limits).

2. You should have obtained the Acas certificate referred to below and in our overview article on Employment tribunals.

3.  You need to have checked out in advance the type(s) of claim(s) you are making. It’s important to set out all legal complaints in the ET1. For example, if you want to claim both unfair dismissal and pregnancy discrimination then you should say this – don’t leave one of them out as it will be difficult to amend your claim at a later stage.  A list of possible claims is given in our article: Employment tribunals types of claims.

Then you can complete the claim form knowing that you have done everything necessary prior to submitting a claim.  The claim form is called an ‘ET1’ and is used for making a complaint or claim to the employment tribunal. The form must be completed in full and sent into the employment tribunal system in order to make (or ‘file’) a valid claim.

A lot of the form is concerned with general information, such as the name and address of you and your employer and your dates of employment.

What should I include under ‘Details of claim’ in the tribunal claim form?

The form also allows you to set out your complaint under the heading ‘details of claim’. This is your opportunity to explain to the tribunal – and to your employer – what it is that you are aggrieved about.

You don’t need to provide witness evidence or lengthy legal argument at this stage but it is helpful to include:

  1. The facts of the case – what you say happened.
  2. Evidence – why you say the tribunal should accept your version of events. Is there an email or a statement that backs you up? If there is, then refer to it.
  3. Claims – what kind of claims are you making? Unfair dismissal? Sex discrimination? Maternity discrimination? Holiday pay? Then say so.
  4. Legal argument – why should your claims succeed? This does not have to be lengthy but it is helpful if you can point to any pieces of legislation or judgements that you are relying on.
  5. Remedy – what is it that you are asking for? If you have been dismissed do you want your job back? Or are you seeking compensation?

In our view it is usually better to concentrate on 1, 3 and 5 in the complaint to the employment tribunal.

It is important to get the right balance in your claim. Don’t be too brief, so for example simply saying; ‘I was dismissed on [date]. I have been unfairly dismissed and I am seeking compensation’ is unlikely to be enough. On the other hand, the tribunal does not want to see pages and pages of verbatim discussions or long quotes from policies or correspondence.

A good way of testing whether a claim has included everything that it should is to ask yourself; ‘if I prove everything I have set out here, will I win the case?’ If the answer is yes, then it’s probably good to go. If the answer is no, then you probably haven’t included everything you should have.

If you are only going to use a lawyer for one thing in your employment tribunal claim, then use one to complete the ET1 details of claim. This document will be referred to again and again throughout the case, and if anything important is missing, especially a type of legal claim which you didn’t think about, then you will probably find that you are out of time to add it in at a later stage – the three-month time limit will probably apply. So build your tribunal claim on the solid foundation of a professionally drafted ET1.

How do I fill in the ET1 form online?

Your information

Name and Address – Self-explanatory

Group Claims –  Select ‘No’ unless you are making a claim with others based on the same legal basis

Representative’s Details –  Complete if you have instructed a solicitor or other organisation to represent you during the proceedings.

Respondent’s details

Name of Respondent – this should be the correct legal title for your employer and should match the information that you provided to Acas during the Early Conciliation Process.

You should provide the head office address, postcode and telephone number

An additional box will appear if you worked in a different place to the main or head office

Do you have an Acas Early Conciliation Certificate number? –  Enter your certificate number in this part of the form. If you don’t have one then you need to get one, unless one of the exemptions apply. Access the Acas form here. This is a free service.

You will then be contacted by Acas. Once they’ve tried and failed to negotiate a settlement, or if you tell them to issue a certificate prior to that point, they will issue you a certificate. This just ensures that all claimants have at least attempted to settle out of court.

The Early Conciliation period affects the time limits for bringing a claim which is discussed in more detail in our article on ‘Time Limits for Employment Tribunal Claims’.

Do you wish to add additional respondents? –  There may be additional Respondents in some types of discriminations claim and other companies if your employer changes whilst you were employed. For example, if there was a TUPE transfer.

Were you employed by a Respondent? – highly likely that the answer will be yes but you are asked to explain if you are still employed, working your notice period or no longer working for this employer.

About the Claim

You are then asked to provide information about the claim types you are pursuing:

  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Protective Award
  • Discrimination
  • Pay
  • Other type of claim
  • Whistleblowing claim

Claims Details – this is the most important section. It’s often advisable to instruct a lawyer to draft this part. If you want to do it yourself, we have some free templates here which you can attach to your claim. (there is a limit of 2500 characters on the form itself but is possible to upload a text file).  Make sure that your text file has been correctly uploaded.

Similar Claims –  Do you know if other claimants are making a similar claim? Self-explanatory

Claim Outcome –  What you want if your claim is successful? Most people will say compensation only but it is worth asking for recommendations and in some cases, there can be tactical reasons to ask for your old job back or another job with the same employer

What compensation or other outcome are you seeking – just write ‘damages’ (this is standard and it gets assessed much later)

What do I do after completing the employment tribunal claim form?

Once you have completed the ET1 form, you will be asked to check your claim before submission, again it is very important that you check that all the information is correct as amending it at a later stage can be complex and will generally be at the discretion of the judge.

Also, check that the uploaded document has been loaded correctly. Once this is submitted you will receive an email confirmation of receipt from the Tribunal. It is important to keep a copy of what you have submitted for your records.

The tribunal will process your claim usually within a few days of receipt and send a copy to your employer who will then have 28 days to file their response.

Further sources of information on our website

You may find it useful to read our detailed article on employment tribunals.  At the end of the article, we also provide you with links to some of our other guides about employment tribunals and examples of completed employment tribunal ET1 forms which you can download and adapt freely for your own use.

A well-written, well organised and legally accurate ET1 can go a long way towards winning a case. We can advise you on the documentation needed and can fill in the ET1 for you if you wish. So do get in touch and see if we can help you with your case.

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