How to start an employment tribunal claim

If you are looking to pursue a claim in the employment tribunal, this is your guide to getting started.


On 26th July 2017, The Supreme Court ruled Employment Tribunal fees unlawful. So if you are about to make a claim, there is no fee to pay.


Time limits

There are also very strict rules about time limits for bringing a claim in an Employment Tribunal. Generally speaking, you have three months less one day from the act complained of to notify ACAS that you wish to pursue a claim. If the act you complain of was part of a series of acts (for example a harassment campaign by a colleague that has gone on for some time) then you have three months less one day from the last act in the series.


You must notify ACAS before you can submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal and if you do not notify ACAS within this time frame then it is very likely that your claim will be out of time and you will not be able to pursue it.

If the conciliation is unsuccessful ACAS will issue you with an early conciliation certificate to show that you have been through the process. You can then submit a claim to an Employment Tribunal. As a general rule you have at least one month from the date the early conciliation certificate has been issued to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

If you leave it too late it is unlikely that the Tribunal will be able to hear you claim, however strong it is.

The application form

A complaint to the Employment Tribunal is made on a form called an ET1. 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.

However, section 8.2 of the form allows you to set out your complaint in detail. This is your opportunity to explain to the Tribunal and to your employer what it is that you are aggrieved about.

It is important to set out all legal complaints in the ET1. For example, if you want to claim both unfair dismissal and pregnancy discrimination then it is important you say this – don’t leave one of them out as it might be difficult to amend your claim at a later stage.

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


  1. 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? 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 judgments 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 to the Tribunal. Don’t be too brief, so example simply saying; ‘I was dismissed on 1st May 2016. 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 am able to 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.

How Monaco Solicitors can help you

A well-written, well organised and legally accurate ET1 can go a long way towards winning as case. We can assist you by advising you about this documentation, and are even able to fill it out for you.

See our Templates with examples of completed Employment Tribunal ET1 Forms.

You may also find useful our helpful guides about employment tribunals, below.

Our helpful guides:
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