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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.