A claim to an employment tribunal begins when the relevant tribunal office receives a claim form, known as ET/1.
Which tribunal office deals with the claim will depend on where the claimant worked.
Once the claim form, ET/1 is lodged, the respondent (usually the employer) has 28 days to lodge a response form, ET/3, presenting its Grounds of Resistance.
On the day of the employment tribunal
An employment tribunal is typically heard by a panel of three people. This comprises a chairperson who must be legally qualified, such as a barrister or solicitor, and two further members – one with an employer background, the other with an employee background.
Whoever has the burden of proof starts the proceedings. Witnesses can be called in to read from their own pre-prepared statements. These statements usually refer to documents and other evidence contained in a common bundle agreed by both parties before the hearing.
Witnesses can then be cross examined by the other party, while the panel may also ask questions. Once the witnesses have given evidence and been cross examined, it’s the other party’s turn to undertake the same exercise.
Next, there’ll be an opportunity for claimant and respondent to sum up their cases before the panel retires to reach its decision. This can happen that same day or the panel may notify the parties in writing at a later date in what is known as a reserved decision.
The outcome of the tribunal will be decided by the three panel members. It can be a unanimous or a majority decision.