If you have a representative, they will normally do all the case preparation and act as your representative at the tribunal. Usually, you’ll still have to speak at the tribunal to give your evidence.
If you can’t find a representative, you’ll have to attend the tribunal without one. Don’t worry about this. Employment tribunals are set up for ordinary employees to appear on their own and many people don’t have a representative. Tribunals are used to people appearing without a representative.
What happens when I arrive at the employment tribunal?
You should aim to arrive at the employment tribunal at least half an hour before the hearing starts. When you arrive a clerk will check you in at reception. They will usually ask if you have a representative, any witnesses and any documents for the tribunal.
You will then be shown to the employee or claimant’s waiting room. You will be in a separate waiting room to your employer and the clerk will come and get you when the tribunal is ready for the hearing. Don’t forget that an employment tribunal is usually a public hearing, so there might be other people in the room when you go through for the hearing.
What’s a last minute settlement?
Before the hearing the employer’s representative may come to your waiting room to discuss the case, and try to make a last minute settlement. If you have a representative, they will handle this conversation. Last minute settlements in the tribunal are quite common and even at this late stage you can agree a settlement rather than go through with the hearing.
If you don’t have a representative, negotiating a last minute settlement can be difficult. If you can, you should be prepared for this. Before you go to the tribunal, think about what you would want from a last minute settlement if your employer’s representative wants to discuss this.
Your employer’s representatives might try to put pressure on you to withdraw your case or to settle. Try not to be intimidated by them and ask them to explain anything you don’t understand. Don’t be bullied into agreeing to something that you’re not happy with, and try to use the situation to your advantage. If you do agree a last-minute settlement, the tribunal will often offer to record the terms of the settlement so that you have a record of the deal. You will then be able to enforce it if the employer doesn’t pay up.
What should I wear to the employment tribunal hearing?
The employment tribunal is a public, legal hearing, so try to dress as smartly as you can. Don’t go to too much trouble to dress up, but you shouldn’t wear casual clothes like jeans and trainers. Don’t chew gum and switch off your mobile phone when you go into the hearing. You shouldn’t take food or drink into the tribunal room unless you have special health reasons to do so.
Can I bring someone to the tribunal hearing for support?
You can bring friends or family with you to support you if you want to. They will be able to sit behind you in the tribunal room but they must be quiet and never interrupt the tribunal.
If you have a representative and you need to speak to them during the case, write down what you want to say on a piece of paper and pass it to them.
How do I address the employment tribunal?
You should address the employment tribunal panel members as either sir or madam.
It’s important that you understand what’s going on, and you’re entitled to ask if you don’t. So if the tribunal panel or your employer’s representative says something that you don’t understand, ask them to explain what they mean. You can take the time you need to understand things and answer a question.
Sometimes people feel scared or daunted by how their employer’s representative is treating them. It’s a usual tactic for the employer’s representative to try to intimidate you. But if you’re really unhappy with how you’re being treated you should raise this with the judge.
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