Making a claim guidance for Employment Tribunal

New Claimants in Northern Ireland should apply to the Industrial Tribunals and Fair Employment Tribunal, Northern Ireland.

    In most cases the tribunal must receive your claim within three months:

    • in dismissal cases the three month period begins from the date your employment ended:
    • in discrimination cases or complaints relating to non-payment of wages or holiday pay the three month period begins when the matter you are complaining about happened. 

    There are special rules for equal pay and redundancy payment claims.

    You should contact Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to use their free Early Conciliation service before applying to a tribunal. The time limit for applying to a tribunal is paused while Acas tries to help you settle the dispute. From 6 May 2014 you’ll have to contact Acas before going to tribunal.

    To claim unfair dismissal you should have worked continuously for the respondent for not less than two years.

    In certain cases relating to unfair dismissal it may not be necessary to have worked for the respondent for two years, for example if the reason for your dismissal was one of the following:

    • Being involved with a union.
    • Joining a union or choosing not to join one.
    • Being involved in Health and safety activities either as an employer's health and safety "officer" or a worker's representative or for raising health and safety issues, or for refusing to work in circumstances of danger.
    • Taking part in activities as a pension scheme trustee.
    • Being, or proposing to become, an "employee representative".
    • Being a shop worker or a betting worker who refuses to work on a Sunday.
    • Using certain rights covered by the Working Time Regulations.
    • Being dismissed for pregnancy/pregnancy related reason.

    If you are, or were, an employee of the respondent

    You need to tell us whether your claim relates to your dismissal. If you are or were an employee of the respondent and your claim or part of it does not relate to you being dismissed.

    You need to tell us:

    • your name and address;
    • the name and address of the respondent or respondents (the person or organisation against whom you are making a claim); and
    • the details of your complaint;

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    You can get more help and advice from:

    • Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) on 0300 123 1100
    • A trade union, if you are a member
    • Free advice services such as a law centre or a citizens advice bureau
    • Solicitors and other professional advisers.
    You may be able to get Legal Aid in Scotland.

    Expert information, advice and support on discrimination covering England, Scotland and Wales is available from the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS).

    If you are applying for a redundancy payment, there are specific time limits which are complicated. You can get help from the Redundancy Payment Helpline on 0845 145 0004.

    If your complaint is about not receiving the national minimum wage you can get help from the National Minimum Wage helpline on 0845 600 0678.
    Dealing with your claim can take a number of months. Currently the average time between submitting your claim to the tribunal and getting a final decision is 27 weeks. The length of time will depend on what your claim is about and the issues involved – if there are lots of issues, or they are complicated, your case may take longer.

    If the employment tribunal uphold your claim, they will consider what award to make and will be based upon a number of considerations.
    The average awards made at tribunal and the average length of time from receipt of claim at tribunal to the final judgment being sent to all parties for Employment Tribunal claims during the financial year 2012-13 are:

    Jurisdiction Average Award  (all claims[1]) Average Time in Weeks (all single claims)
    Age Discrimination
    Disability Discrimination
    Race Discrimination
    Religious Belief Discrimination
    Sex Discrimination
    Sexual Orientation Discrimination
    Unfair Dismissal

    Source: ET and EAT Annual Statistics 2012-13

    Making a claim

    You can apply online to an employment tribunal. For help and guidance, read ’Making a claim to an employment tribunal (T420)’. This guide is available in Braille, audio, large print and on disk.

    Automated Receipt

    When a claim has been successfully submitted you will receive a receipt to confirm this.  If you do not receive a receipt notification, you should contact the Employment Tribunal office immediately. 

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    After making a claim to the Employment Tribunal

    If your claim cannot be accepted we will return your form to you with a letter telling you the reason why your claim has not been accepted and what action you should take.

    Once the claim and response have been received, there may be some issues which need to be dealt with before the claim can be decided.

    • You may require further information from the other party. 
    • The Tribunal may give directions or orders on this and other matters relating to your case, which you must follow.
    • If witnesses are vital to the case but will not come to the hearing freely, you can ask for a witness order to make them attend.

    If you decide that you need more information or documents from the other party, you should ask for this in writing, giving a reasonable time limit for responding. If they do not provide the information you have asked for, you should write to the tribunal as soon as possible enclosing a copy of your written request and ask the tribunal to issue an order.

    The tribunal can also decide that more information is needed from either party to clear up a particular matter.

    Case management

    In some cases, the tribunal may hold a case-management discussion to deal with matters. This will be held by an Employment Judge on his or her own and you and the other party will be invited to take part. It may be held over the phone or in person. If you do not carry out or comply with any order made by the tribunal your claim or response may be struck out, or you may be ordered to pay all or some of the other party's costs.

    Withdrawing a claim

    You may withdraw either all or part of your claim at any time before or during the hearing. If you want to withdraw your claim, you must do so in writing to us. You should also tell the respondent that you are withdrawing your claim. You must do this as soon as possible.

    HM Courts & Tribunals Service


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