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Guide to employment tribunals in the UK

This article is for workers or lay people who wish to have an insight into the employment law system. It contains basic information on who can bring a claim for what, the court's hierarchy and other bodies involved and how to file an employment claim.

Courts' hierarchy

Employment law
An employment law claim first has to be brought before the Employment Tribunal. Appeals can then be made to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) or Court of Appeal and finally, to the European Court of Justice. Industrial tribunals
They are independent judicial bodies who hear and determine claims to do with employment matters. These include a range of claims relating to unfair dismissal, breach of contract, wages/other payments, as well as discrimination on grounds of sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, part time working or equal pay (Industrial Tribunals and The Fair Employment Tribunal Northern Ireland).


Time limit for the claim The time limit for bringing a claim, for example a claim of unfair dismissal, is usually a strict three months from the date the employee is dismissed. For cases with similar facts, judges usually base their decisions upon past cases known as precedents.
Employment contract Workers are classified into two categories usually based on which type of contract of employment they hold. There are important pieces of legislation which contains the employment rules and regulations for employees' and employers' and other workers' rights, entitlements and responsibilities. Employment rights
The Employment Rights Act 1996, section 230, defines an employee as a person who has a contract of service. Workers with a contract for services are not usually called employees. This distinction is important for a number of reasons: income tax, state benefits, employer's liability to employees (both employers’ personal liability and vicarious liability), third party liability and employment law rights like: discrimination, working time, minimum wage, maternity leave, redundancy payments, unfair dismissal and part-time work.


Citizens Advice Bureau
The Citizens Advice Bureau , a local law centre, is usually able to advise workers on how to bring a claim and whether they might be successful. Help from professionals Other workers usually opt for taking professionals, like Employment and Discrimination lawyers to dispute their case.
Website for information DirectGov is a website which is accessible to anybody who wishes to obtain more information online on any issues on employment rules and regulations in the UK. The ET1 Form can be downloaded online and used to apply to make a complaint or appeal to an employment tribunal (England, Scotland and Wales only). The ACAS
The ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has some codes of practice relevant to employment law rules and regulations that the tribunal will take into account when resolving an employment law claim.

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