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Keep it simple

Most employment tribunal claims are about dismissal (actual or constructive); and most of the compensation awarded in most claims reflects loss of income from the job.

If before the end of your employment, you were treated badly by your employer in a large number of different respects, it can be easy to lose sight of this. You want the tribunal to know the whole story. You want to tell them about (e.g.) the unfair decision to disallow your expenses claims, the unreasonable refusal to allow you to use the accounts photocopier, the stationery cupboard incident, the time you were left out when the birthday cake was distributed, the discourtesy of the manager who conducted your grievance hearing, the unfairness of the way the grievance appeal panel was selected, the employer’s obstructiveness in agreeing a date for the grievance hearing, the unreasonable insistence on conducting the hearing at Head Office, etc etc etc.

You may feel that all of these things are examples of discrimination against you, or your employer’s bad attitude to you. You may even be right.

But most of this will make no significant difference to how much money the tribunal orders your employer to pay you at the end of the case.

So if you really think the tribunal needs to hear about it to understand the story, put it all in your witness statement. But leave it out of your claim form and your list of issues.

Why? Why should you let your employer get away with even relatively minor wrongs?

There are two reasons. The first is that if you include everything, you will obscure the important points. You’ll risk making the tribunal think you are obsessed with trivia, so that by the time you get to the heart of your case you have lost their interest and sympathy.

(The truth is, being badly treated by your employer hurts a lot. Most people who have suffered this over a period lose perspective, and get a bit obsessive about it. But the tribunal doesn’t know you. So they can’t tell at a glance whether you’ve been treated badly because you’re obsessive and annoying – or you’re obsessive and annoying because you’ve been treated badly. So if you can keep an eye on the this tendency in yourself and restrain it, you’ll improve your chances.)

The second is that including everything will increase the duration of the hearing. This will certainly mean more wear and tear for you; and if you’re paying for legal representation, it will increase the costs. So when you’re tempted to claim for umpteen individual detriments, ask yourself this question: am I likely to get enough in additional compensation for injury to feelings for these incidents to make up for the cost of the extra hearing days? If the answer is no, trim your claim.

As a rule of thumb: if you’ve got a list of issues with more than about a dozen questions on it, think very hard about whether your case really needs to be so complicated. Most don’t.

One comment

  1. Anna

    I totally agree with you but the practice where I work obviously think otherwise. I really do not understand why riders, witness statements etc need to be 50 and more pages long. What is even worse, they keep amending them all the time and writing letters to Tribunals…nobody is concise these days and it is no wonder why Tribunals struggle to hear claims and reach a right decision. I hope they do something about this.

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