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5th August 2015

GUIDE TO RESPONDING TO AN EMPLOYMENT TRIBUNAL CLAIM

In relation to most claims, before issuing a claim in the tribunal the claimant must first attempt early conciliation through ACAS with a view to trying to resolve the matter. ACAS will contact the business and attempt to facilitate an agreement. If after this process the matter cannot be resolved the claimant can issue a claim in the tribunal (an ET1 claim form).

Receiving a claim can be an unsettling time. Try not to take it personally. Treat it as any other commercial matter that needs to be addressed. Businesses have the right to respond to the claim and put forward their version of events.

When responding to a claim, here are some key things to remember:

  • There is a deadline for submitting your response – it must be submitted to the tribunal within 28 days from the date the tribunal sent the claim to you. The deadline date should be stated in the letter from the tribunal. If you fail to submit your response or submit it late the tribunal can make a decision against you without a hearing;
  • Gather all of the relevant information – do this as soon as possible. Remember you don’t have much time to prepare and submit your response;
  • Gather the relevant documents – this may include the contract of employment, relevant policies and procedures, letters, emails, sick notes, performance appraisals, disciplinary warnings etc. Use these documents when drafting the response, you can refer to and use quotes from these documents in your response. Remember, should the claim proceed to a hearing, you will need to put copies of these documents into a joint bundle, together with the claimant’s documents, which will be used during the hearing;
  • Identify who you will need information from – which staff were involved in the background matters that led to the claim? For example, if the claim relates to a dismissal, this may include the person who investigated the disciplinary allegations, the person who chaired the disciplinary hearing and made the decision to dismiss, and the person who heard the appeal. Speak to these people to obtain the relevant information needed to draft the response. Remember these individuals will be required as witnesses if the claim proceeds to a hearing;
  • Complete the ET3 response form – a copy of the form is usually enclosed with the notice of claim that the tribunal sent. Alternatively you can complete an ET3 form online (the website address should be provided in the notice of claim);
  • Provide sufficient detail – claimants often provide little detail in their claim form or the information they provide may not be accurate or may be disputed by you. Be sure to provide in your response all of the relevant information in sufficient detail so that the tribunal can understand: what your business does; what the claimant’s role is/was; in chronological order – the key things that happened leading up to the claim; and why you deny the claim;
  • Full defence – if you intend to defend all of the various parts of the claim ensure it is made expressly clear in the response that you deny all of the claims made by the claimant in their ET1 claim form;
  • Ensure your response has been received – it is your responsibility to ensure the tribunal receives your response before the deadline. There are a number of tribunals across the UK. Ensure you send your response to the correct tribunal office, details should be included in the letter the tribunal sent to you. If you are posting the response, send it recorded delivery in good time before the deadline, and telephone the tribunal a few days before the deadline to check they have received it. If you are submitting your response online, or via email again send it in good time before the deadline. You should receive an automated message from the Tribunal confirming receipt – print this off and keep it safe. If you do not receive a receipt, telephone the tribunal to check they have received it. Tribunal offices are open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. If in doubt re-send!

With a wealth of experience in successfully defending tribunal claims including representing businesses at tribunal hearings, Ashley HR provides expert strategic support with defending claims.

This service is provided on a fixed fee basis, with all of the costs clearly explained at the start.

For more information please contact us

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