Tagged: ET1

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Drafting the ET1

The ET1 form is badly designed. One of its worst faults is that it provides separate boxes in which to write the narrative section of the different claims that may be presented. So, for example, a claimant who is complaining of unfair dismissal, race discrimination and unauthorised deduction of wages has 3 separate boxes to fill in to tell the story relating to each claim.

The trouble with this is that much of the story, told clearly and logically, is likely to be common to all the claims. The form invites either a lot of repetition, or else telling the story in a number of disjointed snippets. If several of the boxes require continuation sheets, the form can get very complicated and hard to read.

The best way to deal with this is simply to write ‘please see additional pages’ in each of the boxes that calls for a narrative, and then tell the whole story once, clearly and logically and making all the individual claims explicit, in a single document. The 3 pages of ‘additional space for notes’ on the form can be used if the story is short enough; otherwise just draft a separate word-processed document and attach that. (For the practicalities of presenting a claim in this event, see previous post.)

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Presenting the ET1

There are essentially 3 ways of presenting the claim. You can write the details of your claim on a paper copy of the form (obtainable from the Employment Tribunal Service, who will post it on request, or from a JobCentre or CAB). You can complete the online form. Or you can download a PDF version of the form and complete and submit that.

The PDF form is – nearly – very convenient to use. You can save a copy, work on it in several sessions, print it out, email it to other people, and finally, when you have finished it to your satisfaction, submit it electronically by pressing the red ‘submit’ button on the first page. Unfortunately there are two related respects in which it is inconvenient.

The first is that if the narrative part of your claim is quite long so that you need to use the ‘additional space for notes’, those pages each take a set amount of text, and insertions on one page do not automatically ‘push’ later text onto the next page. That means that if, after you have completed a first draft, you want to expand the narrative section on the first of the additional pages, you will have to make space for the new text by moving paragraphs from the first page to the second page; and that may be impossible until you have also moved paragraphs from the second page to the third.

The related problem is that there are only 3 additional pages. Even a succinctly drafted claim may well, if the facts are at all complicated, require more space than this.

In this case, the best solution is probably simply to write ‘see attached pages’ in each of the boxes that requires a narrative (e.g. 5.1, 6.2) and set out the whole story in a separate word-processed document. Then, instead of submitting the form electronically, print it and either fax or post it together with the narrative section. Although this is not one of the specific methods of presenting the form mentioned on the guidance or the Employment Tribunal Service website, the ETS helpline has confirmed that a form presented in this way will be accepted.