Employment Tribunal

Employment Tribunal (ET) claims are increasing and the economic effects of the COVID pandemic are likely to mean many employers receive more against them, or perhaps it is the first time it has happened. Our senior solicitor, Charlotte Ashton, explains the next steps to consider.

When an employer receives an ET claim there is a specific limited timescale in which to submit a defence, known as a ‘response’, to the Tribunal. Employers should act quickly to gather all relevant information and seek advice to ensure they respond appropriately and within the timeframe.

Prior to submitting a claim, a claimant will have had to engage Acas in Early Conciliation so employers may have prior notice that a claim will be coming. However, in some instances, the employee can state they do not wish to engage in this process, in which case the employer is not notified and the first thing they get is the notice of claim.

What is included in a claim?

A claim will set out the contact and employment details of the employee, who the claim is brought against, as well as the particulars of claim. Where an employee is legally represented, the claims should be well set out and enable the employer to understand the claims made against it.

However, some employees represent themselves and, in those cases, the specific claims brought against the employer may be unclear. It is key to get advice on ET claims to ensure they are not missed, and each potential claim is responded to.

ET claims have to be brought within strict time limits so, upon receipt of a claim, you should check the employee’s final date of employment or the dates on which any of the allegations in the claim happened. It may be possible to raise initial jurisdiction points in the response on grounds that the claim is submitted out of time. The rules around time limits can be complicated, so early advice on such points is important.

How do I respond to a claim?

A response should confirm or correct the claimant’s stated employment details. For each claim set out by the claimant, an employer should ensure that it responds clearly to either accept or deny the claim. An employer also needs to set out succinct background information so that the Tribunal can review whether the defence has reasonable prospects of success.

The notice of claim may come with further information from the Tribunal regarding a final hearing date, directions for the parties to follow in preparation for a full hearing, and details of any preliminary hearing. These should be diarised and, if a final hearing is listed, any potential witnesses should be informed to ensure that they are able to attend.

Failing to respond to an ET claim is likely to result in a default judgment being entered against the employer, which can be difficult and costly to try and overturn. It is therefore essential that any employees dealing with post ensure that Tribunal paperwork is passed immediately to the HR or management team.

Taking good advice on receipt of an ET claim can ensure employers are able to put forward a strong defence and minimise the time and expense when dealing with a claim.


We are the HR and employment law experts from ESPHR.

It’s our mission to advise and develop the employment law capability of HR professionals wherever we can, helping HR teams make a real commercial difference to their organisations. That way, you spend less time solving operational issues and more time actioning projects that drive far-reaching change in your company.

Call 0333 006 2929 or email info@esphr.co.uk today to discover exactly how we can help you.


Author: Charlotte Ashton

Senior Solicitor, ESP Law Ltd

Charlotte has over 10 years’ experience in all aspects of employment law. She trained in-house with a large UK company, covering 45,000 employees, and moved to private practice on qualification. Charlotte enjoys helping growing companies understand their legal obligations and has given training and presentations to start up entrepreneurs, and business students, at a local University. Charlotte also specialises in business immigration law for the UK and has helped employers obtain sponsor licences in order to recruit from outside the UK.


Get the latest HR and employment law news, advice, insight, free resources and promotions straight to your inbox