Employment tribunals: how it all works

Want to take your employer to tribunal but no idea where to start?! I’ll give you an overview of the process in this short video.

Advice for employees in regards to employment tribunals

Try and settle your case before you reach the employment tribunal!
While we fully support the Employment Tribunal system and the vital role it plays in upholding the rights of employees, like any system it is far from perfect. Unfortunately, it suffers from chronic under-funding, which means that delays are rife. It can take many months, even years for a case to be heard. Furthermore, in almost all cases, the employer has greater resources than the employee to fight a case in the employment tribunal. Consequently, the employee often suffers great financial hardship or inequality of arms (or both) when it comes to a hearing. Employers will often engage several solicitors and at least one barrister to fight their case. An employee may, at most, be able to afford a solicitor and junior barrister, and will often not be able to afford to engage them to undertake the same amount of time taken on the case as the lawyers engaged by the employer. Furthermore, and most importantly, in almost all employment tribunal cases it is the employer that controls the evidence. It has access to all the documents and nearly all the witnesses called will be current employees of the employer, all of whom will most likely give evidence against you, the employer. While the employment tribunal has the power to order disclosure of evidence, it does not have the same powers as the high court, for example, in terms of disclosure and the default of disclosure. It cannot, for example, hold parties in contempt of court for failing to abide by orders. Often, employers will not disclose to their own lawyers documentation crucial to the employee’s case, therefore rendering the employee at a great disadvantage.

Finally, judges are human too, and while all judges aspire to impartiality and to try cases before them to the best of their ability, they do not always make the correct decisions for myriad reasons. A judge may have had an employee in his tribunal before in similar circumstances who presented a poor case and lost. She may take a dislike to the employee, no matter how strong his case. She may have woken up in a bad mood or be dealing with problems in her own life. The point is that when you submit your case at a tribunal for judgment, you are doing so to a human being with their own ideas, ideals and prejudices and it can be a capricious system at times.

Therefore, while in theory the employment tribunal system is a jurisdiction in which employees are able to bring claims against employers in a relatively straight-forward manner, in reality, employees face an uphill battle to ensure justice is done, whether than is in terms of cost, of resources or in control of the evidence. This is why at Monaco Solicitors we are dedicated to trying to negotiate and settle cases before an employment tribunal claim becomes necessary.