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Employment Tribunals

Try the new version of our Making a claim to an employment tribunal advice on the Acas beta website.

The Employment Tribunals are an independent judicial body established to resolve disputes between employers and employees over employment rights. The tribunal will hear claims about employment matters such as unfair dismissal, discrimination, wages and redundancy payments.

Employment Tribunals are less formal than a court, for example no one wears a wig or gown. However, like a court, tribunals cannot give out legal advice, almost all hearings are open to the public, and evidence will be given under oath or affirmation.


Before lodging an Employment Tribunal claim, Acas must be notified first and this can be done through Early Conciliation. An independent, impartial Acas Conciliator will then attempt to help both parties to resolve their differences. Whilst these discussions are taking place the time limit for making a tribunal claim is extended. The Early Conciliation period can be up to a month initially, and can be shorter or up to 14 days longer according to need.

Experience shows that resolving a dispute through conciliation is faster, cheaper and less stressful than going to the tribunal. However, in some cases Early Conciliation will not resolve the dispute, so we will bring it to a close. Evidence that Acas has been notified will be provided in the form of a unique Acas Early Conciliation Reference Number.

We can provide further conciliation help before a tribunal claim is presented if both parties want it, and we will offer our services again as or when an application is made to the tribunal. Wherever possible, the same conciliator will try to help the parties.

More information is available from Early Conciliation.

Employee Tribunal Fees

There is no longer a requirement to pay a fee to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal or the Employment Appeals Tribunal. This was confirmed on July 26th 2017 by the Supreme Court which declared unlawful the Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fees Order 2013.

Information on reimbursement is available on - Employment Tribunal fees refund.

Financial penalties on employers who lose at tribunal

The Employment Tribunal will be able to order losing employers to pay a penalty on top of any award made to the claimant. These penalties will be payable to the Secretary of State if the tribunal finds the employer has breached the employees' employment rights and has "one or more aggravating feature".

The minimum amount will be £100 and no more than £5,000, the amount shall be 50% of the amount of compensation awarded with a 50% discount for employers who pay within 21 days of the tribunal's decision. The tribunal will look at the employer's ability to pay in deciding whether to order the employer to pay a penalty.