Employment Tribunals

Article Title : Employment Tribunals

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Employment tribunals hear cases and make decisions on employment issues such as unfair dismissal, redundancy payments, discrimination and a range of claims relating to wages and other payments.

Normally an employee requires two years continuous employment to bring a claim. Where an employee is dismissed on any of the following grounds the qualifying service period does not apply:

  • Sex, race, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age and disability
  • Pregnancy or maternity
  • Trade union membership
  • Asserting any statutory right (i.e. a right given by legislation), such as a request for a written statement of particulars of your employment, or complaining about health and safety
  • Whistle blowing

Compensation

Losing tribunal cases can be an expensive business. Compensation is awarded as follows for unfair dismissal claims:

  • Basic Award – This is paid as compensation for loss of employment and the security that goes with it. It will vary according to age and length of service. The maximum award is 30 weeks’ pay (limited at £489 pw) to a maximum value of £14,670.
  • Compensatory Award – This is paid to an employee for loss of earnings for the period between their dismissal and the tribunal hearing, difficulty in finding work and loss of accrued benefits e.g. pension. The maximum award is currently the lower of £80,541 or 12 months gross pay.
  • Reinstatement Orders – If you refuse to reinstate an employee when ordered to do so by the tribunal, they may make an additional award to your former employee of between 26 and 52 weeks’ pay (limited to £489 pw) up to a maximum of £25,428.

In cases where an employer fails to consult their employees during a redundancy process the tribunal may issue a Protective Award which may be up to 90 days’ pay. A days’ pay in these circumstances is not subject to a cap. If collective consultation was required and this was not carried out in accordance with the legal requirements, any award given to a single individual affected will be granted to all those involved. These awards have exceeded £1m.

Where a successful breach of contract claim is brought, the maximum award is £25,000. If the tribunal finds that an employee has been unlawfully discriminated against, the award is not limited. The largest sum awarded by a tribunal in 2015/6 for a sex discrimination claim was nearly £1.8m.