Tribunals hear claims alleging: unfair dismissal; constructive dismissal (where an employee resigned because they felt their position was untenable); breach of contract; equal pay; discrimination (on grounds of race, religion or belief, disability, gender or sexual orientation) and the failure to follow correct procedures, or consult, during redundancy, grievance and disciplinary processes.
Applications to the Employment Tribunal usually have to be received by the Tribunal no later than three months (less one day) after the event complained of. This is a strict limitation period and anyone bringing a claim should be careful not to miss the deadline. For unfair dismissal cases, you also have to work for an employer for a certain length of time before you can begin proceedings, unless the case involves:
- Any form of discrimination.
- Becoming pregnant.
- Whistle blowing.
- Health and safety issues.
- A statutory employment right – such as the right to maternity leave.
- Unlawful deductions for wages or outstanding pay.
- Joining (or refusing to join) a trade union.
Claims involving serious discrimination can result in unlimited compensation payments if they are proved.
However, Tribunals are usually a last resort when all other methods of resolving a dispute have failed. They can be time-consuming and stressful to the claimants; there is always a risk of failure and they can prompt unwanted press attention and negative publicity for both parties. In addition, there are now fees payable by the Claimant in order to pursue a claim similar to the County Court.