Employment disputes can arise for a number of reasons, but generally fall into one of two categories – grievances or disciplinaries, the latter of which are also known as disciplinary procedures. If an issue between an employer and an employee escalates, they may end up in an Employment Tribunal.

While circumstances and specifics vary from one Employment Tribunal to the next, what we can do here is give you an overview. We’ll outline the definition of an Employment Tribunal, the overall process involved, the qualifying periods, and how you can prepare. We’ll also share our own costings associated with these types of claims.

What is an Employment Tribunal?

An Employment Tribunal is an independent judicial body with the power to pass judgement on disputes over employment rights. Whilst not as formal as a court, the decision of an Employment Tribunal is legally binding.

An Employment Tribunal claim should only be pursued when all other resolution methods have proven unsuccessful. As we mentioned above, there are generally two categories of problems you may encounter with an employer: grievances or disciplinaries.

Grievances are usually aired when an employee (you) voices concerns, problems, or raises complaints with your employer. These can be focused on things like working conditions, pay, discrimination, or a breach of contract.

What types of claims are covered during Employment Tribunals?

Tribunals generally make judgements on claims relating to:

  • Unfair dismissal
  • Constructive dismissal (in which an employee resigns because they feel that their employer has breached the original contract)
  • Failure to consult an employee prior to making him or her redundant
  • Breach of contract Issues regarding equal pay
  • Discrimination relating to race, age, sex, sexual orientation, religious belief or physical or mental disability
  • Failure to follow correct procedure during the disciplinary or grievance process, for instance not allowing the employee to be accompanied by a representative at a hearing

What is the process?

An Employment Tribunal is a time sensitive process. While it’s not as formal as court, the proceedings are legally binding. This means any decision made by the Employment Tribunal is enforceable by law.

Employment law and HR

To start, you’ll first need to submit an Early Conciliation form with the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service (ACAS) during the qualifying period. If you’re still working for your employer, you’ll need to apply within three months of the actual incident. If your employment has ended, you’ll need to submit within three months of the termination of your employment.

Early Conciliation is a mandatory part of the process. When you submit this form, you’ll need to use previous payslips to determine the legal identity of your employer. If you and your employer can reach a compromise you’ll get a settlement form from ACAS, called a COT3.

If you and your employer cannot reach an agreement, you’ll receive a certificate from ACAS stating this part of the process has concluded. At this point, you’ll then be able to submit your claim to an Employment Tribunal.

You may need to submit your original employment contract, any changes to the contract, your employee handbook, witness statements, and other supporting documents to the Employment Tribunal. After this you may need to attend a hearing, or several, for the judge to hear evidence.

The hearings generally take place in individual tribunal rooms. Typically, only one person – the Employment Tribunal Judge – will sit in on the case. Sometimes two non-legal members may be also present, to listen to and evaluate the case.

Once all evidence has been heard the judge will issue a decision, usually via mail. You can only contest the decision if new evidence has come to light.

What is a qualifying period?

The qualifying period for filing a claim with an Employment Tribunal is within three months of the date your employment ended, or within three months of the time the incident occurred.

Employment Tribunal claims cannot be accepted outside this time frame, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Given the time sensitivity of this process, we recommend you speak with a solicitor about your situation as soon as possible. A member of our specialist team will listen to the details of your potential claim. From there, our experts can advise you on the likelihood of your claim being accepted.

How can I prepare for an employment tribunal?

There are many ways you can prepare for an Employment Tribunal. The best way is to be organised!

Start by gathering any and all communications between you and your employer which pertain to the dispute. You may need proof that you’ve first tried all other means of resolution, so be sure to keep any original documents, record conversations, and keep all of your notes, as these can provide valuable evidence for your case.

Your solicitor will advise you on all of the documents you’ll need for the hearing. Be sure to bring all of the requested documents to your Employment Tribunal.

Is there a cost involved?

Yes, there are potential costs involved for an Employment Tribunal.

While you do not have to pay anything in order to make a claim, you may need to pay for your travel to and from court.

Commercial Litigation Farleys Solicitors LLP

If you opt to be represented by a solicitor at Farleys, the total cost of an Employment Tribunal will vary on a case-by-case basis, depending on the complexity of the case, the volume of documents, and the number of witnesses involved.

Below we’ve approximated the typical costs by average, to give you a general guideline of what to expect. These are not final costs.

Please keep in mind these approximations do not include VAT or disbursements (outlined below):

  • Unlawful deduction of wages — £3,500 and over
  • Breach of contract — £3,500 and over
  • Unfair dismissal — £6,500 and over
  • Discrimination claim — £6,500 to £9,000


You’ll be informed as early as possible on the final disbursement costs. On average, these costs range from between £750 – £3000, plus VAT.

At Farleys, we know that each case is unique, which is why the expert Employment Tribunal solicitor assigned to you, will be able to tailor our legal services to meet your specific needs, situation, and case, in addition to advising you on the best course of action.

If you need to speak with one of our specialist employer Solicitors about any of our services you can reach us by phone simply give us a call on 0845 287 0939, online chat with an expert, send us an email, or visit our offices. We have several conveniently located offices across the North West in Manchester, Blackburn, Preston, Accrington, and Burnley.