The Employment Tribunals (ET) are an independent judicial body established to resolve disputes over employment rights between employers and employees. Claims likely to be heard in the ET will involve matters on unfair dismissal, discrimination, wages and redundancy payments.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously held that ET fees were unlawful and must be quashed. In September 2018, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published tribunal statistics for April-June 2018 and across the boards the numbers are up!
Key figures include:
• Number of single claims lodged increased by 165% compared with the same quarter last year.
• The number of single claims outstanding rose by 130% compared with the same quarter last year.
• There have been 12,400 fee refund payments made since the fee refund scheme was introduced, totalling just over £10m.
• Disability discrimination cases had the largest average award (£30,700). Religious discrimination claims had the lowest average award (£5,100). The average award for unfair dismissal awards was £15,007.
If you are an employer and you have received an ET claim, it is crucial you act quickly and carefully to place yourself in the best position to defend the claim, or to reach a fair settlement agreement with the employee. At Employment Law Services (ELS), we have set out 5 top tips that should be applied when responding to a claim.
(1) Address the claim immediately
A tribunal claim is not something that should be set aside to deal with at a later date. Employers should have procedures in place to make sure that, when an ET1 is received, it is immediately brought to the attention of the appropriate people.
An employer should then make the decision on who is going to have the responsibility for dealing with the claim and begin working on the response.
An employer’s response should arrive at the ET office, on the appropriate form (an ET3), within 28 days of the date on which the claim was sent out.
(2) Evaluate the merits of the claim
Employees cannot submit an ET claim unless they have contacted the ACAS early conciliation service in the first instance. If both parties have gone through this process, the employer will probably already have knowledge of the employee’s complaint and had the opportunity to process its merits.
In this event, the employer should carefully carry out an assessment of the employee’s complaint and what defence they may have and then decide whether to fight the case or not.
Sometimes, employers discover that a settlement agreement is the less expensive option when weighing the costs of defending an ET claim. Settlement agreements are legally binding contracts which can be used to end an employment relationship on agreed terms. Once this document has been signed, the employee won’t be able to make an ET claim about any type of claim which is listed on the agreement.
(3) Focus on the issues relevant to the case
When responding to an ET complaint, it is crucial that employers focus on the employees specified allegations and any legal issues that may surround this. An employer’s response should be carefully drafted in as much detail as possible as they may not get the opportunity to introduce more information at a later date.
(4) Pay attention to detail
Whoever is in charge of drafting the ET3 must ensure that there are no inconsistencies and that all statements are factual and supported by the correct evidence.
(5) Submit the ET3 on time
An employer’s response form (ET3) should be submitted within 28 days of receiving the claim. This form can be submitted by using the online submission tool or returning the paper form.
The main thing to remember here is to ensure the tribunal office receive the form before the deadline, the form should not be sent on the 28th day. Employers may have the opportunity to apply for an extension, but this will be permitted at the judge’s discretion.
Fixed Fee ET work
Defending Employment Tribunal claims, or threats of a claim can be costly, but it doesn’t need to be. with Employment Law Services (ELS)’ Fixed Fee Employment Tribunal Representation offering, employers can save time and money. We understand how expensive, stressful, time consuming and distracting defending an Employment Tribunal Claim can be, even before the case ever reaches the hearing stage.
Negotiating the employment tribunal rules & procedures can be confusing & difficult but it doesn’t need to be. With our Fixed Fee Employment Tribunal Representation offering, employers can save time and money.
We believe this approach helps you control costs, minimise stress and wasted time and management resources, allowing you to continue to focus on your core business.
If you are faced with an Employment Tribunal claim, or threat of an Employment Tribunal Claim, Employment Law Services (ELS) can help. If you are an employer who requires assistance with any of the issues raised in this blog contact us today for your free consultation 0370 218 5662.