Employment Tribunals

Employment Tribunals are every employer’s worst nightmare, and with fees now abolished, it’s never been easier for disgruntled employees to bring a claim.

Not only have claim numbers risen year on year since 2017, but research shows they are becoming more complex and taking longer to resolve, further increasing your costs. With this in mind, receiving the right support can be crucial to minimising financial and reputational risk.

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How we help

Reduce exposure, protect your bottom line

At Ellis Whittam, we help organisations proactively reduce their exposure to Employment Tribunal claims through high-quality, pragmatic advice. 

With a trio of dedicated Employment Law specialists at your disposal, you can navigate your way through even the trickiest employee matters quickly and compliantly – and, should a claim arise, we’ll be there guide and support you, strengthen your position and minimise stress.

Related Information


Employer's Guide to Contracts, Handbooks and the Good Work Plan


Guide to Employment Tribunals

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Frequently Asked Questions - Employment Tribunals

Support when you need it most

Dealing with an Employment Tribunal can be an incredibly unnerving and time-consuming process. Our team of specialist litigators can look after you, and your case, throughout the life of a claim.

Your dedicated adviser will deal with all the other parties, take care of correspondence, and draft all your documentation to relieve you of significant time pressures and offer peace of mind. If you have taken Legal Expenses Insurance, we will liaise with the insurers directly on your behalf and keep them updated. We can advise you as to prospects of success based on our years of experience in defending claims brought against companies, and, where possible and appropriate, explore settlement and negotiate terms that are acceptable to you.

We will also liaise with Chambers to find and instruct a barrister who will represent you at the hearings, and work closely with them to ensure seamless representation throughout. We will do everything we can to advance your case and take the stress out of an already stressful situation.

Dramatically reduce risk

You’re over eight times more likely to defend a Tribunal claim if advised by EW.

Popular FAQs

Common Employment Tribunal queries and questions about our support, answered by our Employment Law and Litigation specialists.

How can I work out the chances of success at an Employment Tribunal?

The precise chances of success at Tribunal can be very difficult to accurately measure. It requires a careful review of the relevant law and the evidence in a case before an opinion can be offered. Even then, the best one can hope for is a view of whether a certain party is more likely to win or lose. Beyond that there are far too many variables to be too precise.

How can I handle an Employment Tribunal for discrimination?

Any Tribunal claim is difficult for a lay person to handle and that is even more so in a claim for discrimination. These sorts of claims often revolve around complex legal concepts and it really is best to have a professional in your corner. They can identify the issues, advise you on the process, identify and seek out relevant documents and prepare the case for you. This would include the collation of documents into a paginated bundle, the preparation of witness statements, and the instruction of a barrister to argue your case in Tribunal.

How are Employment Tribunal decisions made?

This depends on the type of case. For some straightforward claims, such as those for wages, holiday pay or unfair dismissal, a Judge alone will hear the case and make a decision based on the evidence. For more complex claims, or unfair dismissal with an element of discrimination or whistleblowing, the case will be heard by a three-person panel – a Judge and two lay people. Of the two members, one will usually have a background in HR/business and the other in trade unions. The idea being you then have an industrial jury who have experience from both an employer and employee perspective.

How much does an Employment Tribunal cost?

Since 2017, it does not cost anything to make a Tribunal claim and that has seen the number of claims increase exponentially. If a disgruntled employee wants to make a claim against you, all they need is a laptop and a spare 10 minutes. Once that claim is submitted, you are into a process which is not easy or quick to get out of. The average compensation payment in an unfair dismissal claim is around £15,000 and legal fees can often match that. More complex case types such as discrimination can cost more, with the average award for age discrimination in 2019/20 coming in at £38,794. As a result, it makes sense to have the benefit and peace of mind of Legal Expenses Insurance which can cover these costs.

Can I get free Employment Tribunal advice?

Not as an employer. Some charities or legal professionals offer free advice to employees but hardly ever to employers. Acas act as mediators in all Tribunal claims but they are not legal professionals and cannot give legal advice. That’s why it makes sense to have a legal professional fighting your corner and getting you the best outcome possible.

What outcome can I expect from a redundancy Tribunal case?

Compensation. Most successful claims brought by an employee result in the employer having to pay compensation. The average award for unfair dismissal over the past 12 months is a little over £15,000. In some cases, a Tribunal can order that a previously dismissed employee be reinstated but those cases are fairly rare.

Can you help us to detect issues before they result in a claim?

Yes. For organisations with larger case volumes, we can produce MI reports to uncover any emerging issues and problem hotspots. That way, you can recognise, and with our help resolve, employee issues before they escalate into full-blown claims.

Will training reduce the risk of Employment Tribunal claims?

Mismanagement can exacerbate employee issues and, in some cases, can leave you exposed to Employment Tribunal claims. Our range of HR training courses can minimise this risk by increasing awareness of Employment Law and best practice in essential topics such as Discipline & Grievance, Equality & Diversity and Performance Management.

Will you take care of the documentation involved in an Employment Tribunal claim?

Yes. We draft pleadings, including any responses to Further and Better Particulars, deal with disclosure of documents and work with potential witnesses to draft statements for agreement and approval.

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From determining whether your organisation is in a genuine redundancy situation to understanding redundancy pay and settlement agreements, support from named experts will help you to transform complex legislation into a series of manageable steps.

If someone is made redundant, can they be replaced?

Employers should proceed with caution when considering replacing any staff who have been made redundant. After all, to make somebody redundant implies that their role was no longer required and deciding to hire somebody else in this position provides clear evidence that this was not the case. As such, the redundant employee could make a claim to an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal.

Can redundancy be withdrawn?

Once an employer has issued an employee with a notice of redundancy, it is legally binding. As such, it cannot be unilaterally withdrawn by the employer without the employee’s consent. However, if circumstances change and the redundancy is no longer necessary, it is possible to withdraw the redundancy notice while the employee is working their notice period, so long as they explicitly agree to this.

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From setting up a grievance procedure to holding a hearing and managing appeals, we’re here to walk you through the process so that you can resolve issues quickly, compliantly and with minimum disruption to your business.

How can I resolve workplace grievances?

It’s important to have a grievance procedure, set out in your Employee Handbook, that explains how any workplace complaint should be resolved, whether that be on a formal or an informal basis. A formal procedure will usually involve meeting with the complainant to discuss their grievance in detail, investigating the complaint before giving an outcome. It is also best practice to offer the right of appeal.

What is the Acas code of practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures?

Acas have set out procedures which should be adopted by all employers when dealing with a disciplinary or grievance issue. It involves investigating any issue, holding a meeting with those involved, providing an outcome and offering the chance to appeal. If an employer fails to comply with the Acas Code of Practice, it can lead to employees receiving uplifts in compensation of up to 25% following a successful claim.

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Fair, commercial, pragmatic. We’ll find out what you want to do, help you explore options and risks, and work with you to manage misconduct quickly, effectively and in line with the law.

Can employees resign during a disciplinary?

Yes. Employees resigning during the disciplinary process is a fairly common tactic adopted by someone facing serious allegations. Resignation is a unilateral act, and employers cannot choose to accept or reject the resignation. If someone resigns with immediate effect, their employment ends straightaway. If they resign with notice, then it may be that you can conclude the disciplinary process before the notice period ends.

What are the steps in the disciplinary process?

Generally speaking, it is investigation, meeting, outcome, appeal. How long each step takes, and the exact process involved, will often depend on the seriousness or complexity of the allegations.

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Upskilling Managers

Whether you’re keen to upskill in essential HR topics and legal compliance or looking for ongoing support in the form of a responsive helpline, we offer a range of solutions designed to help managers carry out their role confidently and effectively.

What types of management training do you offer?

We offer a range of interactive and engaging HR training courses designed and delivered by professionally-qualified, highly-experienced HR practitioners. Popular courses include Manager Essentials, Discipline & Grievance, and Equality & Diversity, all of which are delivered exclusively to you on site or at a venue of your choice.

Will you support managers, or just HR teams and business owners?

Typically, for smaller employers, we support managers, directors and owners, essentially becoming a high-quality outsourced HR function. For large employers, we provide specialist support to their in-house HR Team.

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Legal Expenses Insurance

An optional component of our Employment Law and HR support, by underpinning our advice with LEI, you have maximum reassurance that your business is protected against unfair dismissal and other costly employee claims.

I’ve never had a claim before – why would I need to take LEI?

For the same reason you take out any insurance policy – to guard against the high cost of defending an Employment Tribunal claim. The premium cost is very low compared to the potential payout, especially as it covers the cost of representation as well as any potential compensation. You don’t have to have LEI, but it could significantly impact your bottom line if something goes wrong, given that the cost of even the most basic unfair dismissal claim could be £20-25,000 when legal costs are factored in. Unfortunately, the latest Tribunal statistics suggest that employers now are more vulnerable than ever.

Can you deal with Employment Tribunal claims, or is this triaged outside of EW?

Should you receive a claim, your dedicated Employment Law adviser, who will have dealt with the matter up until that point, will conduct a full handover to our Litigation Team. They will explain the case history, share all the relevant documentation and offer their views on the prospects of the claim. Our Litigation Team will then take over all the prep work, including drafting a defence, producing bundles, dealing with Acas and the other side, and briefing counsel. Rest assured this is a smooth process, with everything kept inside EW, and you will be in safe hands throughout.

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Why choose us?

At Ellis Whittam, we’re known for our bespoke service and the quality of our support. Not only is our expertise unmatched, but we take the time to know you so that we can function as a true extension of your team.

  • Your own small team of dedicated experts
  • Commercial, pragmatic advice tailored to you
  • Bespoke contracts, policies and handbooks
  • Trusted by over 35,000 organisations
  • Recognised as a leading firm by the Legal 500

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