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Information About Employment Tribunal

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 20 May 2015 |
Employment Tribunal Court Hearing Member

An employment tribunal hears applications (which are sometimes called ‘complaints’) and appeals relating to issues concerning employment. These may include cases brought for unfair dismissal, sex, race and disability discrimination, redundancy, and cases that relate to wages, terms and conditions of employment, and workers’ rights.

Where Will My Employment Tribunal Be Heard?

The vast majority of employment tribunal hearings take place at employment tribunal offices around the country. In limited situations, premises may be hired to hear some cases. Although an employment tribunal is similar to a court, it is not as formal. Lawyers do not wear wigs and gowns, but nearly all hearings are public which means that if your case is high profile or of public interest there may be members of the press in attendance.

Sexual Allegations

There are exceptions to the rule on reporting, however: if your case involves an allegation of sexual misconduct, the tribunal may decide to make a ‘Restricted Reporting Order.’ What this means is that the media are not allowed to name the specific individuals involved in the case until such time as the tribunal has issued its written decision on the case. An allegation of ‘sexual misconduct’ does not for these purposes have to constitute a criminal sexual offence. If an employment tribunal does involve an allegation that is a sexual offence, all the names of the people who are affected by the allegation are omitted from public records.

Who Sits On The Tribunal?

Usually there will be three people who will make up the ‘tribunal’, or the people who hear the case. The chairman is a lawyer, who is appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The other two people are lay members (i.e. non-lawyers) who are appointed by the Department of Trade and Industry and who have experience of dealing with work-related problems. Although given their positions by the government, the tribunal members are not government employees and as such are independent from the state.

What Are The Duties Of The Tribunal?

The tribunal has to deal with the case fairly and justly. This is its most important function, and means that all parties have to be on an equal footing; cases must be dealt with swiftly and in a way that takes account of the nature and importance of the issues at stake. If you are a party to the proceedings, you have to help the tribunal to achieve that aim.

When Will I Hear The Result?

The tribunal do not announce their findings at the hearing. You will receive a written decision some days after the hearing. Reasons for the decision will be given to you. If you receive a decision that you disagree with, you may appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal as long as you do so within the specified time limit. In other circumstances, it may be possible to have the decision reviewed – but you should seek legal advice on whether your case qualifies for this course of action or not.


In general, one party does not have to pay the other party’s costs if they lose. The exception to this, however, is in situations in which the tribunal considers that a party or their representative has acted unreasonably, abusively or disruptively, or has brought a claim that is totally without merit. In these circumstances, the tribunal may order that party to pay some or all of the other side’s costs.

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I am interested in an independant judiciall view. I had a longer lunch break at workthan usual as I was starting a new position within the company that I had worked for for 5years . My new job description was discussed,and I assumed (wrongly) that the boss had approval to stay out for 4 hours. The next day I enquired how long I should put down on my time sheet for the lunch break and he told me to put down 2 hours. We returned to the office and worked for an hour so it wasn't a half days 'holiday' but an unofficial long lunch. I thought no more about it until he was suspended and demoted for 'gross misconduct' as was I and a couple of other members of team who were with us. I would have thought a warning more appropriate. What are your views?
Fred - 20-May-15 @ 4:07 PM
This isn't a comment but hopefully you can give me an answer or point me in the right direction. I have two case numbers that went to the court re employment - age discrimination - and I would like to know what happened to these people's cases.How can I find out how these cases are going or the outcome of them. Many thanks
Tina - 18-Jul-13 @ 8:33 PM
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