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Employment tribunal Jargon buster
In this jargon buster you can find out the meaning of some of the words about employment claims that are used in the pages on Sorting out problems at work.
Adviser – an adviser is someone who can help you with your employment case behind the scenes. They can help with paperwork, and give you advice on your case. Usually they won't talk directly to your employer or represent you at the employment tribunal.
Appeal – if you're not happy with the decision that the employment tribunal has made at the hearing, you may be able to question the decision. This is called an appeal. But you can only appeal about issues of law. This means that you can only appeal if there were problems with the way the law was used in the original decision. Appealing an employment tribunal's decision is difficult, so you should get legal advice if you want to do this. For contact details of organisations that may be able to help you with an appeal, see What help can I get with a problem at work.
Case management discussion – this is a meeting before the main hearing of your employment tribunal case. It will be attended by you, your employer, or your representatives, and the tribunal Chairperson. It will decide how the case should run, and what will happen when.
Closing statement – this is a short speech that you or your representative make at the end of your employment tribunal hearing. Your employer will make one too. Your closing statement should remind the tribunal of the main points of your case.
Compromise agreement – these are now called settlement agreements
Contract – this is an agreement between you and your employer. It is usually about what work you will do, and how much your employer will pay you for it. It will also usually include information about the other rights you have at work. Your employer must give you a written statement of your terms and conditions of employment within two months of when you started work.
Counter-claim – if you make a claim against your employer for a breach of contract, they may be able to make a claim back against you. This is called a counter-claim.
Cross-examine – this is when a witness at an employment tribunal hearing is asked questions by the other side. It may be you or a witness for your side being asked questions by your employer's representative. Or it may be you asking questions of your employer or their witness. The idea of cross-examination is to prove things to the tribunal.
Directions – these are instructions from the employment tribunal about what should happen in your case. They might be instructions for things like giving more information, for when witness statements should be ready and sent to each side or when the bundle should be ready. Sometimes directions from the tribunal are called orders.
Disclosure – you and your employer have to give each other copies of all the documents you have that are relevant to your case. The process you use to do this is called disclosure. You might do this by writing to you employer to ask for documents, or you might need to ask the tribunal to make an order for your employer to give you certain documents.
Employment tribunal – the employment tribunal is an independent organisation that decides disputes between employers and employees. It is not a court, and it is run by the Tribunal Panel Chairperson.
ET1 – this is the form that you use to make a claim to the employment tribunal and to set out your case. It is a legal document so you should take care when filling it in. There are strict time limits for when you can send the ET1.
ET3 – this is your employer's response to your ET1 form. They will use this to say why they disagree with your claim.
Grievance – a grievance is a way of formally raising your concerns, problems or complaints about work with your employer. Your employer might have a grievance process that you should follow, and if you can you should put your complaints in writing. You should try to raise a grievance with your employer before you take a case to the employment tribunal. The tribunal might reduce how much compensation you can get if you don't.
Hearing – the hearing is the final part of your case with the employment tribunal. It is where the Chairperson and other members of the tribunal panel decide whether they agree with your case. If they do, they will decide what solution is suitable.
Judgment – this is the decision that the employment tribunal gives about your case. The tribunal might give their decision, and the reasons for it, at the end of the hearing. If your case is complicated and there is not enough time for the tribunal to come to a decision on the day, you might get the judgment and the reasons in writing later on.
LRA – the Labour Relations Agency. They work with employers and employees to try to resolve employment disputes. They can work with you before you make a claim to the employment tribunal, and before your hearing. They have a confidential helpline where you can get independent advice. For contact details, see What help can I get with a problem at work.
Orders – these are instructions from the employment tribunal about what should happen in the case. They might be instructions for things like giving more information, for when witness statements should be ready and sent to each side or when the bundle should be ready. Sometimes orders from the tribunal are called directions.
Pre-hearing review – this is a hearing that you might have before the main employment tribunal hearing, usually while you're preparing your case. It will be attended by you and your employer, or your representatives, and the Tribunal Panel Chairperson. The pre-hearing review will decide important first parts of your case, to save time at the main hearing.
Pre-claim conciliation – this is a scheme run by the LRA. They can work with you and your employer to try and work out your differences without taking a claim to the employment tribunal. The scheme is impartial, confidential, voluntary and free.
Re-examination – this happens during your hearing in the employment tribunal. After your employer has finished asking you questions, your representative, if you have one, may ask you a few more questions. This is called re-examination.
Representative – a representative is someone who will be named on the tribunal claim form. They will take responsibility for the preparation of your case and represent you at the employment tribunal. All contact about your case will go to your representative, and they will contact you when they need to.
Schedule of loss – this is a document that helps you work out how much compensation you might get from the employment tribunal if you win your case. It includes sections for different things you may be claiming, for example unpaid wages, compensation for unfair dismissal or injury to feelings.
Settlement – this is an agreement with your employer to stop your case before it goes to an employment tribunal. Usually, your employer will agree to pay you some money and you agree not to continue with your case. Your employer may also want you to agree to things like confidentiality.
Settlement agreement – this is an agreement which is signed directly between you and your employer without going through the LRA or an employment tribunal. Usually your employer agrees to pay you a certain amount of money as compensation, and in return you agree not to take a case to the employment tribunal. Before you agree to a settlement agreement you have to get legal advice from an independent solicitor and they have to draw up the agreement. The law says that for the settlement agreement to be legally binding, you have to get independent legal advice.
Trade union – a trade union is an organisation made up of members who are mainly workers. The union aims to protect and improve the interests of the members at work. If you are a member of a union they may be able to support you in a grievance process or employment tribunal claim and offer you legal advice.
Witness statement – this is a written document of the evidence you or another witness will give at the employment tribunal. You will normally have to read out your witness statement at the hearing as your evidence.