Six clear steps to resolving your issues at work
- Step 1: Information gathering
- Step 2: Try to resolve dispute
- Step 3: Notify Employment Tribunal
- Step 4: Settlement negotiations
- Step 5: Optional Employment Tribunal decision
- Step 6: Compensation
Step 1: Information gathering
The first step is to find out more about your rights and what you can do about your situation. Please use our free initial assessment service to do this. This is a free, confidential telephone service, with no obligation to go on to use us.
Our lawyers will then give you an initial view as to whether your employer (or a work colleague) has acted in a way which means you can claim a remedy such as compensation or getting back your job or a similar job.
Usually you will only have three months from the date of the unfair treatment or your employment ending to lodge your claim with the employment tribunal, so the sooner you get things started the better.
Our lawyers will let you know if they think you’ll be able to make a successful claim under the complex rules that sometimes apply. They will also give a view of the remedies available (including the level of compensation that may be achievable).
If you decide to go ahead, we’ll then work with you to put together the evidence we need to prove your claim. There are three main areas of information gathering:
- You: We’ll need to get full details from you about what’s happened at work – with background information, key dates and events, including any internal procedures followed. We’ll also ask you about the impact this situation has had on you.
- Documents: We’ll work with you to piece together all relevant documents, such as your employment contract, work policy documents, appraisals, any disciplinary or grievance procedure documents, as well as emails and letters.
- Witnesses: Where relevant, we’ll also try to gather information from colleagues who may have witnessed examples of your unfair treatment and then prepare a statement.
Step 2: Try to resolve dispute
It is usually better if the dispute can be resolved amicably.
It may be too late by the time you contacted us, but if not, we can assist you with the formal procedures your employer may have in place.
Informal discussion with line manager: Sometimes a private word can be the best way forward. It may be that the problem stemmed from a misunderstanding rather than something more sinister. Afterwards you should make a written note of what was said and any promised outcome.
Disciplinary procedure: If your boss has started this process against you, it may still be possible to use it to your benefit. It is certainly an opportunity to raise issues you are unhappy with.
Complaint or grievance: You can use the company’s procedure to formally make your complaint. Legally, you should not be treated any differently for doing so, but that doesn’t always happen in practice, so keep a record of what was said and when.
If you follow the proper process to try to resolve the dispute, but your employer fails to co-operate and does not follow good practice for dealing with your concerns, then any compensation awarded to you later may be increased by up to 25% to reflect this.
Step 3: Notify Employment Tribunal
Where the dispute is not resolved by using your company’s internal procedures (see step 2) or where there is not enough time for them to be completed, we must notify the employment tribunal of the dispute. This is the special court for disputes in the workplace.
However by notifying the employment tribunal, it doesn’t mean you’ll need to use the tribunal’s service – it just protects your right to do so if you need to.
Tribunal fee: An ‘issue fee’ is payable for notifying the tribunal:
- The fee is £250 for cases of unfair dismissal, discrimination or whistleblowing.
- £160 for cases of unpaid wages, notice pay and redundancy payments.
However if you are on a low income or receive certain state benefits, we may be able to apply to get this fee waived.
Usually, you only have three months from the date of the unfair treatment or sacking to notify the employment tribunal using an ET1 form. There are strict rules which have to be followed to ensure you meet this deadline. However our expert lawyers will make sure your claim is presented in the best possible way.
The ET1 can be sent to the employment tribunal online (where the fee can be paid by card), by post (where the fee can be paid by cheque) or in person at certain local offices.
This starts a legal process with time limits for both us (on your behalf) and your employer to comply with. In particular they have a month to respond in writing to your claim.
Whatever approach your employer takes in their response, our specialist lawyers will know how best to deal with it to protect your interests. Where necessary it may mean we will need to get additional evidence to support your case.
Step 4: Settlement negotiations
In protecting your position, at this stage we will be armed with all the evidence we have gathered. We’ll also have been sent any evidence your employer intends to rely on (called disclosure). We’ll review everything and advise you on the strong and weak points in their arguments.
The next step is to see if negotiations will lead to an acceptable ‘out of court’ settlement. This has the benefit of saving both you and them the time, expense and worry of a court hearing at the employment tribunal.
Settlement offers: We will go through all of the information with you. With QualitySolicitors we think it’s important you’re fully consulted and put in a position to make key decisions. Our role is to work with you and ensure everything has been properly explained to you. We’ll discuss:
- How much we think the Employment Tribunal would award to you based on all the evidence.
- Our view on the litigation risk of going to a hearing (the chance that the court might award you nothing, or less than your employer is offering as an out of court settlement).
- The benefit to you of settling now, perhaps for a little less than you might get at a hearing, compared to the delays, cost and worry of fighting on.
At this point, we’d work together to consider the figure you’d be happy accept as fair compensation and share this with your employer. They may either agree or come back with a lower offer based on their own evidence. This is the process of settlement negotiations.
Sometimes, to assist with negotiations, both sides can agree to use an independent mediator (a process known as alternative dispute resolution).
Any settlement offers your employer makes will be reviewed with you, with the aim to negotiate an amount for you, based on what we believe the tribunal would award based on the evidence. This is what happens in the majority of cases – so usually the next stage is compensation (see step 6).
Step 5: Optional Employment Tribunal decision
Occasionally, after we have tried negotiations, an employer will still only offer a level of compensation which we think is too low.
We’ll talk you though any offer made. In particular, we’ll advise you on how it compares to what we think you would be awarded if you decided to fight on, with a hearing at the employment tribunal.
We’ll discuss the evidence, along with the strengths and weaknesses of your case and your employer’s. We’ll give you our view about what would happen at the tribunal. Our role is to provide clear advice in plain English – not legal jargon. That way you are able to make an informed decision on what you want to do next.
Then, if you agree with us that the offer is too low, and you decide to fight on, we can then prepare for the employment tribunal hearing.
Court fee: A hearing fee that is payable towards the cost of the hearing at the employment tribunal:
- The court fee is £950 for cases of unfair dismissal, discrimination or whistleblowing.
- £230 for cases of unpaid wages, notice pay and redundancy payments.
However, if you are on a low income or receive certain state benefits, we may be able to apply to get this fee waived.
Usually the decision and any remedy will be made by a panel of three people:
- A legally-qualified employment judge who runs the hearing (who will sit in the middle of the panel).
- The judge will be joined by two people (who are not from a legal background but are there to help assess what is fair and reasonable):
- One from an employer-focused background.
- One from an employee or trade union background.
Sometimes, however, the employment judge will decide cases alone.
After considering the evidence from both sides present at the hearing, the judge will make a decision (called a judgment) about whether you’ve been unfairly treated and, if you have, what the remedy should be. This is usually an award of compensation which your employer must pay you.
Step 6: Compensation
The final stage is that if you win your case, we send you your compensation.
This will either be the amount of the out of court settlement we negotiated for you (and on our advice you accepted) or the amount the employment tribunal awarded you.
With our guarantee of no hidden costs, you have the peace of mind of knowing that, in accordance with our agreement with you, you will only pay the legal costs we agreed at the start. And nothing else.
Have a question or need some help? Call us today on