The irresistable force of employment tribunals
An article on the details involved in Employment Tribunals
Employment tribunals are in place to deal with disputes between employers and employees that they have failed to resolve through any other procedure. If employers and employee disputes get to the employment tribunal, it usually means that other attempted methods to resolve the situation have failed and they are now at the employment tribunal as a last resort to settle the dispute. I intend to look at what claims can be heard in the employment tribunal, what the employment process consists of and what other ways of settling a dispute there are without the use of an employment tribunal.
Firstly, the tribunal process:
Employment tribunals are heard by a panel of three people: a qualified judge and two laypeople with experience in employment issues. The use of an employment tribunal is free but the cost of representation will obviously be dependent on the solicitor's fees. The final decision of the tribunal is legally binding, meaning that both parties must respect the decision made or face savage retribution under the law. The employment tribunal will not, unless in exceptional circumstance, hear cases that have not been claimed upon more than three months after the date of the matter the employee is complaining about.
Types of claims
The types of claims that can be heard in an employment tribunal are any area that is covered by employment law. The most common examples of cases heard in an employment tribunal are the following:
Unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal.
Discrimination on the grounds of disability, race, sex, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief.
Problems within the disciplinary procedures process
Problems arising out of redundancy.
Breach of contract in any form
Alternative methods of dispute resolution
Once an employee or employer has indentified the area of dispute, as listed above, they must aim to resolve the situation. Heading straight for the employment tribunal is not always the best option. There are alternative methods of dispute resolution. The following are the two main methods that should be considered and attempted before resorting to the employment tribunal.
Acas Conciliation: The advisory, conciliation and arbitration service is a method of pre-claim conciliation. It is a method which aims to resolve the issues between employer and employee before going to the tribunal, through advice and suggested forms of resolution. If the matter is settled through the Acas Conciliation then a written agreement is signed. Once the terms of agreement have been settled upon there is no going back. Once the written agreement is in place if either party attempt to breach the agreement then the other party is entitled to sue for breach of agreement.
A second method of alternative dispute resolution is the ‘Compromise Agreement’. This is a legally binding settlement which offers the displeased party compensation or a reference. The offers of such compensation are made in exchange for a withdrawal of the claim. This type of agreement can be used if both sides have representatives and Acas is not involved.
As mentioned, to come to a compromise agreement the claim has to be withdrawn. A claim can be withdrawn at any stage either in part or in full. To do this you must inform both the employment tribunal in writing, and the other party involved in the dispute.
As with all areas involved in employment law, the employment tribunal process is much simpler with the help of expert legal advice.
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