Employment tribunals (ETs) are specialist courts dealing with disputes that lie outside the jurisdiction of the civil court system.They deal with a range of claims relating to employment such as claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination (on grounds such as age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, or race), redundancy payments and unpaid wages.
A person seeking to bring a claim must do so within 3 months of employment ending or the incident or dispute arising. Before formal proceedings can be commenced, it is first necessary to contact the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and take part in a process known as early conciliation. This is a free conciliation service aiming to try to settle the dispute without having to proceed to a tribunal hearing. Around 12% of cases settle at this stage. ACAS is an independent and impartial body offering services to employers and employees. If this process does not work (e.g. the parties are unwilling to cooperate or can’t reach agreement), ACAS will provide a certificate that allows the claimant to commence formal tribunal proceedings. Early conciliation must have been completed before the 3-month deadline. After this, the claimant has a further month to commence proceedings.
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