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Interim relief (II)

If you think you’ve been dismissed for trade union activities, or whistle-blowing (or one of a short list of other specific reasons), you can ask a tribunal for an order preserving your employment with pay until your unfair dismissal case is heard. That’s called an application for interim relief. Interim relief applications are pretty rare, probably because you have to make the application within 7 days of dismissal. Most people just won’t find out about the existence of the right in time to try to exercise it.

There’s more about interim relief applications in general here. This post just adds a couple of practical points:

Certification

The right to ask for interim relief is created by rather complicated and partly overlapping statutory provisions. It’s easiest to think of the reasons for dismissal in two categories: ‘trade union related’ and ‘other.’ If your reason for dismissal wasn’t about trade union membership or activities, your claim will be brought under section 128 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. You have to move fast but there’s nothing very technical or difficult about setting up your claim: you present your ET1 as soon as possible (and preferably sooner) making it clear you want interim relief, and saying which of the section 128 reasons you’re relying on, and presently the tribunal should hear your application.

If your claim is about trade union activities, it’s a bit more complicated – and there’s a potential pit-fall. For some (though not all) union-related claims, the ET1 won’t be accepted unless it is accompanied by a certificate from an authorised official of the trade union stating that on the date of the dismissal you were or proposed to become a member of the union, and there appear to be reasonable grounds for supposing that the reason for your dismissal was the one you are complaining about.

So if your claim is about dismissal for something to do with trade union membership or activities, check carefully whether you are relying on one of the reasons that requires you to have this certification. If in doubt, get the certificate anyway: it won’t harm your claim if it turns out you don’t need it. And make sure the certificate says what it needs to say: it has to say you were or proposed to become a member of the union at the time of the dismissal – not at some other time. You may not be absolutely sure when the date of the dismissal was: if so, the simplest thing may just be to get the authorised representative to certify that you have been a member continuously from whenever you joined up to the date of the certificate.

If your facts give rise to potential claims both of the kind that do need certification, and of the kind that don’t, rely on both in the alternative. That way, even if there’s something wrong with your certificate, your claim may still be accepted.

Earnings & benefits

Because you have to present the ET1 in such a tearing hurry in these cases, it may be tempting to skip over some of the detailed bits of the form; in particular, it’s common for employees to fail to complete details of earnings and benefits. But if you get interim relief, the whole point is to make sure that your earnings and benefits from the employment continue as if you hadn’t been dismissed. The tribunal can’t order that unless it knows what your earnings and benefits were: so do make sure you complete boxes 4.2 and 4.5. of the ET1 form to the best of your ability. And if you don’t put that information in the form, make sure you have it before you go to tribunal.

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