How do I stop being taken to an employment tribunal?

Following these guidelines can help reduce the risk of an employment tribunal, although all situations are different; get specialist legal advice for your own situation.

  • make sure you use the right documentation such as employment contracts, job descriptions and policies and procedures in a staff handbook.
  • Follow the ACAS Code for disciplinary and grievance procedures and principles of best practice, ensuring you act promptly and consistently
  • Be mindful of employment rights, such as rights not to be discriminated against; some forms of discrimination are obvious, but others are less so. Ensure you have an equal opportunities policy
  • provide staff with ways to raise concerns early via grievance and whistleblowing policies and procedures
  • provide written feedback on staff performance 
  • follow your own procedures which should be written down and consistently applied as necessary to all staff
  • take action if you receive a complaint, by following due process promptly, and investigating it properly
  • be fair and reasonable at all times
  • keep a written record, to demonstrate that you have acted properly.

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How do I defend myself at an employment tribunal?
  • Stay calm and get specialist legal advice quickly; it’s probably best not to try to ‘go it alone’ without a lawyer, if the case is complex
  • Check whether you have any legal expense insurance – you will normally be responsible for your own costs regardless of the outcome
  • engage in the ACAS early conciliation process that all employees must follow before submitting a claim.  It aims to help people settle the argument without going to an employment tribunal. Meaningful negotiations can result in matters being settled without the need to go to tribunal (and avoiding the associated time and costs of going to trial)
  • you must acknowledge the claim and respond within the deadline which is usually 28 days
  • On the form you must complete the mandatory element of the response (the ET3 form), communicate all the facts, refer to everything the employee is claiming and be accurate about anything you write down, to resist the claim
  • collect written evidence such as notes form meetings, performance reviews etc.

What is an employment tribunal?

An employment tribunal is like a court, specifically for handling employment disputes where an employee is bringing a claim against his or her employer. It’s made up of a judge sitting alone or a panel of three people, one of whom will be a judge, who will be legally qualified in employment law; the other two are lay members – that is, not judges or lawyers by profession, although they will have experience in employment issues.  One will be an employee representative, and the other an employer representative. Some cases can be heard just by the judge.  Cases of discrimination must be heard by three judges. Although it’s not a requirement to have a lawyer represent you, most people choose to have legal representation.

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What is unfair dismissal?

For a dismissal from a job to be considered potentially fair it must be on a ground set out under section 98 of the Employment Rights Act:

  • redundancy
  • performance 
  • conduct
  • illegality
  • “some other substantial reason”.

For the dismissal to be fair it will often need to pass the test of being within the range of reasonable responses of an employer. The employer will need to follow an appropriate fair process to minimise the risks of a claim finding procedural unfairness. 

Sometimes the situation is such that it’s considered to be an automatic unfair dismissal. This would be when it relates to something where the employee is protected by law such as:

  • maternity/paternity leave
  • parental/adoption leave
  • asking to be paid the minimum wage
  • pregnancy
  • trade union activities
  • making a protected disclosure (i.e. whistleblowing).

Employment tribunal costs

There is no fee for taking a case to an employment tribunal.  In 2017 the Supreme Court judged that the law at that time, which stated claimants must pay, was unlawful. However, most people choose to get a lawyer to help them and of course this means there are legal fees to pay.  Your insurance or membership of a trade union may cover some of the costs. In general, both sides will pay for their own legal costs, regardless of whether they win or lose.  This helps employees who often have fewer financial resources than employers, to access the employment tribunal system. That said, it’s possible that the tribunal could award costs against a party if their behaviour is deemed by the judge to be, for instance, vexatious or unreasonable.

What is constructive dismissal?

Constructive dismissal is where an employee can treat themselves as having been dismissed because of a fundamental breach of contract by the employer. You may be able to make a claim for one serious breach of your contract, for example, if your employer refuses to pay you without good reason. Alternatively, you may have left your job after the last straw in a series of smaller breaches, which become serious when viewed collectively.

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How much compensation will I get from a spinal injury?

For the most severe back injuries involving damage to the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in severe pain and disability with incomplete paralysis and incontinence, there are judicial guidelines which state that a sum ranging from £85,470 - £151,070 would be appropriate to compensate for a person’s pain and suffering. However, the overall compensation for a spinal injury claim could be much higher than this as financial losses (both past and future) would then be added to this figure. These losses could include care and assistance, accommodation costs, the costs of aids and equipment and costs associated with future medical treatment as well as loss of earnings.

How much compensation will I get from a neck injury?

For the most severe neck injuries involving incomplete paraplegia and little or no movement in the neck with severe headaches, there are judicial guidelines which state that a sum in the region of £139,210 would be appropriate to compensate for a person’s pain and suffering. However, the overall compensation for a neck injury claim could be much higher than this as financial losses (both past and future) would then be added to this figure. These losses could include care and assistance, accommodation costs, the costs of aids and equipment and costs associated with future medical treatment as well as loss of earnings.

Has anyone ever recovered from a spinal cord injury?

Often it can take around 24 months for the full extent of any neurological recovery to become apparent following rehabilitation and support, and this may be a full recovery or partial; often with ongoing needs relating to bladder/bowel function and mobility.

How long does it take to receive an offer of compensation?

It is always impossible at the outset of a medical negligence claim to estimate how long it will take.  As a general guide, some straightforward claims can be settled in 12 months, but large or difficult claims can take 18 – 24 months to investigate and a further 2 – 3 years if Court action is required. It is sometimes possible to obtain interim payments while a claim is ongoing to ease the financial burden while the claim is being investigated and valued. 

 

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Tees coronavirus update

We’re open and here to help you. We’re running as normal with our employees all working from home.

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You can call us as normal on 0800 013 1165 or email us: hello@teeslaw.com.

You can also find contact details for all our advisers here. 

As a flexible and technologically-adept firm, we already had many home-working systems in place. We have now rolled this technology out to all our employees working for clients, so they can continue to work normally - and from home.

If you are a client, please be assured you can get in touch with Tees and we are still working on your case. To replace face-to-face meetings, we have the facilities to do video-conferencing, conference calls or just speak on the phone, as you need.

Due to the circumstances, please call us if you would have wanted a home visit, and we can organise the best and safest way of being in touch.

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