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Glossary of employee's employment law

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of service or defence. If you issue proceedings, you will receive an acknowledgement of claim confirming that your claim has been accepted by the tribunal.

You will also receive an acknowledgement if you submit a defence to a claim.


Postponing a fixed hearing date.


Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service; which offers a conciliation service for employment disputes.

Age Discrimination

Unfavourable treatment on the grounds of someone’s age; or a provision or practice which disadvantages a particular person because of their age and which would tend to disadvantage others in that particular age group.

Aggravated Damages

Are often awarded by the tribunal in discrimination cases, where it can be shown that the discriminatory behaviour has been particularly offensive.


Basic Award

Calculated by taking an employee's age, years of service and average weekly pay to arrive at a figure.

The weekly pay figure is limited to a maximum of £464 per week and the number of year’s service is capped at a maximum of 20 years.

Breach of Contract

Occurs when either an employer or employee breaks one of the terms of an employment contract. For example, if an employer does not pay an employee’s wages, or if an employee does not work the agreed hours.

Not all the terms of a contract are written down. The breach may relate to a verbally agreed term, a written term, or an 'implied' term of a contract.


‘Bumping’ occurs where an employee whose job is redundant ‘bumps’ another employee out of their job so that the one who is ‘bumped’ is the one who is actually made redundant.

This tends to happen when a more senior employee is prepared to take a more junior role to avoid redundancy.


Case Management Discussion (CMD)

Now known as Preliminary Hearings (see below)


The person who brings a tribunal case.

Claim Lodged

When a Claim form has been received by the employment tribunal office.

Compensatory Award

The maximum an employee can be awarded is set by legislation annually. This award is intended to compensate the employee for financial loss relating to their dismissal, including expenses and loss of benefits.

When calculating a Compensatory Award the employment tribunal considers the following: Loss of wages, future loss of wages, loss of perks, how the employee was dismissed, loss of employment protection and loss of pension rights.


The ACAS officer who mediates between both parties in an attempt to negotiate settlement before the final hearing.

Constructive Dismissal

Constructive Dismissal is where an employer has acted in such a way towards the employee that allows them to leave their job and treat themselves as dismissed. Whilst the employer has not actually fired the employee, they may have brought the employment to an end by their behaviour.


If an employer fails to consult employees (and their representatives if applicable) in a redundancy situation, the redundancy dismissals may be deemed unfair.

Contributory fault

A tribunal may reduce a claimant’s compensation if their pre-dismissal conduct was relevant in the dismissal. The tribunal cannot take into account post dismissal conduct in determining contributory fault.


The agreement used by ACAS and signed by all parties to record a settlement once it has been agreed.

Cross examination

the process of questioning your opponent's witnesses. The purpose of cross-examination is firstly to establish and advance your own case and secondly to attack the other side's.



Case management orders issued by the employment tribunal, detailing set dates on which both parties must complete certain key tasks.


The process by which each side must inform the other of the relevant documents they have in their possession in relation to the case.

Disability Discrimination

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the grounds that they have a disability by either treating them less favourably than they otherwise would (e.g. by demoting or dismissing them) or by failing to make reasonable adjustments.

Default Judgement

Can be made if a defence is not submitted by the respondent within the prescribed time period.

If a default judgement is issued, the court can hear the case and make a ruling without hearing your side of the story.

Disciplinary proceedings

If an employer is concerned or unhappy about an employee’s work, they may look to take disciplinary action against them.

Examples of why an employer may be concerned or unhappy include the standard of work or behaviour at work. They may also be concerned about the level of absence from work.

Deduction from Wages

If an employer reduces or fails to pay wages without agreement in writing this amounts to an unlawful deduction from wages even if the employee owes money to the employer.

The law does not of course remove an employer's right to recover money properly due to him from an employee (e.g. typically to recover an overpayment of expenses or wages). It does however, save in a few special cases, mean that the employer is not allowed to recover the money by taking the law into his own hands and deducting it from future wages without the consent of the employee.


A reduction in rank, often accompanied with a lower pay status.

Most people view a demotion as a punishment, as it implies that the individual was incapable of performing at a higher rank.



Abbreviation for Employment Appeal Tribunal. The EAT is the court where any appeals from the employment tribunal are heard.

Early Conciliation

This is the process by which a person who wishes to bring a claim must first contact ACAS to give brief details . An  ACAS officer  will speak to both parties with a view to reaching a settlement . If this is not possible within a certain timeframe , a certificate is  provided which then allows the person (Claimant ) to   issue  the claim .

Employment Tribunal (ET)

The main forum in which employment disputes are heard. They consist of 3 members ( a qualified judge and 2 lay members ) and hear and decide  cases , mostly in public although some are heard in private . Sometimes a judge will sit alone to decide preliminary issues.

ET1 Claim form

Employment Tribunal Claim Form. Standard form on which the claimant MUST submit their claim.

ET3 Response

Standard form on which the respondent MUST submit their response.

Equal Pay

Equal Pay Claims can be brought by both employees and self-employed people who have been contracted to execute work personally.

If a person is considering making an equal pay claim they must have a real life comparator of the opposite sex who is earning more than them, but is doing (i) like work, (ii) work related as equivalent or (iii) work of equal value.

Ex Gratia Payment

Sum of money paid where there is no obligation or liability to pay it.


Fixed Term Contract

A fixed-term contract is one which either:

  • lasts for a specified time, set in advance

  • ends with the completion of a specified task

  • ends when a specified event does or does not take place

Unless there are special circumstances that can be justified, fixed-term employees must be treated in the same way as comparable permanent employees.

Future Losses

Future loss of earnings are often included in a claimant’s schedule of loss if their claim includes dismissal.

Although there is nothing preventing a claimant from claiming one year’s loss of earnings, tribunals often limit future losses to a maximum of six months future loss of earnings and in any event, the claimant must always show that they have made efforts to mitigate their losses by trying to find alternative employment.


Garden Leave

Garden leave is the term given to a situation whereby an employee is required to serve out a period of notice at home.

During this period the employee continues to receive all salary and benefits but is prohibited from commencing employment with new employers until the gardening leave period has expired.


Put simply, a grievance is a complaint.

If an employee is having a problem at work, is concerned about an issue that has arisen at work, or wishes to make a complaint about a colleague or a manager, then they can raise a “grievance”.

Employers should have formal grievance procedures in place to address the handling of such complaints.

Gross Misconduct

Conduct so serious as to justify summary dismissal of an employee.

Acts deemed to be classed as gross misconduct are often listed in an employer’s disciplinary procedure and can include theft, fighting, serious negligence, breaches of health and safety indecent behaviour, dishonesty and offensive behaviour.



Employment tribunal hearings are less formal than a court hearing, however, the decisions made there are legally binding and must be followed.

Human Resources (HR)

is often the name of the function within an organisation charged with the overall responsibility for implementing strategies and policies relating to the management of individuals


Term that is often linked to discrimination claims.

Harassment can be claimed if it can be shown that certain actions violate the person's dignity, or create an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.

Holiday Pay

Most workers have the right to take a minimum amount of paid holiday. This is called statutory holiday.

The rules about statutory holiday apply regardless of how long an employee has worked and regardless of their age.

All employees’ are entitled to take 5.6 weeks' pro rate paid holiday a year.

A contract of employment may give additional rights to paid holiday, called contractual holiday, but it cannot give less.

Health and Safety

An area concerned with protecting the safety, health and welfare of people engaged in work or employment. The goal of all occupational health and safety programmes is to foster a safe work environment.

In the UK employees are given protection under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.


Indirect Discrimination

Indirect discrimination is where an employer has applied a provision or practice which disadvantages an employee and which would tend to disadvantage others of the same race, sex, age, etc.

It is not unlawful if an employer can justify the provision or practice by showing that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Injury to Feelings

Compensation for injury to feelings can be awarded by the tribunal in discrimination claims.

In general terms, the employment tribunal will consider the hurt and distress caused to the employee and make an appropriate award. There is currently no cap on the amount that a tribunal can award for injury to feelings.


A claimant or a respondent can make an application for a court order to prohibit a person or company from doing or continuing to do a certain act.

Investigative Meeting

Employers should carry out a reasonable investigation, adhering to the Acas code, if they are considering taking disciplinary action against an employee.

Any investigatory meeting should not result in disciplinary action without a disciplinary hearing having taken place.

If paid suspension is necessary during the investigation, this should be as brief as possible and kept under review. The employer should make clear that this is not in itself a form of disciplinary action.



The final decision made by the Employment Judge following the consideration of all evidence in the case.


The practical authority to deal with and make pronouncements on legal matters.

The employment tribunal usually has "exclusive jurisdiction" in the sense that the ordinary courts will not have jurisdiction over the same matters.

As a general rule employment tribunals have jurisdiction to deal with cases only if at least one respondent, normally the employer, resides or carries on business in England, Wales or Scotland or if the proceedings relate to employment performed in Britain.

Just and Equitable

A tribunal has a discretion to allow certain tasks, for example, to extend a time limit if they are convinced that it is “just and equitable” to do so.



Lay off

The temporary suspension or permanent termination of employment of an employee.

Less favourable treatment

Occurs when an employee or worker does not receive conditions or benefits granted to others.

Examples of less favourable treatment would include not being given a bonus or receiving fewer paid holidays than comparable employees.


The specific time-limit in which you must issue proceedings in your claim


When a hearing date has been fixed for a case

Litigation Risk

The risk that all parties face in the possibility of losing their case.


Maternity Leave

Employees who are expectant mothers have the statutory right to a minimum amount of maternity leave. Employers may also offer their own maternity leave scheme in addition to this.

Statutory Maternity Leave is for 52 weeks. Employees may also be entitled to receive Statutory Maternity Pay for up to 39 weeks of the leave.


A formal method of trying to resolve a dispute or negotiate a settlement.

Medical Evidence

In certain cases, such as disability discrimination claims, medical evidence may be required. This can be in the form of simply providing medical records, obtaining a medical report or calling an expert witness.


Term often used when referring to wrongful, improper or unlawful actions taken by an employee. An employee can be dismissed on the grounds of misconduct if they have received previous warnings for misconduct.

Dismissals on the grounds of misconduct would have to be with notice pay.


Efforts by the claimant to find a new job and reduce their loss of earnings.



The engagement in discussions between parties in an attempt to resolve disputes that have arisen.

Notice period

should be given by whichever party is bringing the employment relationship to an end. Notice periods can be either statutory or contractual. An employer must give at least the statutory minimum period of notice, which is calculated from the length of employment.


Off the record

When an advisor is assisting you behind the scenes, but will not communicate with the other party and/or represent you at a hearing.

On the record

Your advisor is officially representing you. They are likely to write and receive letters on your behalf and represent you at any hearings (unless they have specifically stated otherwise).


Notices given by the employment tribunal instructing one or both parties to do certain tasks, or advise of key dates in relation to the case.



Word often used by lawyers, referring to the details of a claim or defence.


PILON stands for Pay In Lieu of Notice.

Instead of placing an employee on gardening leave or making them work their notice, an employer can end the contract of employment earlier by making a payment to the employee that is equivalent to the amount they would have received had they worked their notice.

Preliminary Hearing (formerly known as Pre - Hearing Review (PHR))

Are in effect mini hearings held at the employment tribunal.

They are as formal as a final hearing and all necessary documents and witness statements must be disclosed before the hearing takes place. It is also important that all witnesses are in attendance.

Pre-Hearing Reviews are often held to: decide the preliminary issues in a case, decide whether the claim or response should be struck out, decide questions of entitlement to bring or defend a claim or decide if either party’s case has no reasonable prospect of success.



The formal documents that set out each side’s case. For example, your claim form (ET1) and the other party’s response (ET3) and any additional information or further particulars.



The amount of compensation that the tribunal will award the claimant if they win their case.


Written form requesting the employer for information in a discrimination case.



Redundancy is a form of dismissal, caused by an employer needing to reduce their workforce.


Compensation or any other award that the tribunal can make.

Remedy hearing

Separate tribunal hearing to consider how much compensation the tribunal should award.


Employer or person the claim is being brought against.


Schedule of Loss

A claimant’s opportunity to detail what they want to claim by way of monetary compensation in their tribunal claim.


The voluntary conclusion of any litigation by the parties involved. Settlement can be made at any time before a final hearing.

Settlement agreements

It is a binding contract that records the terms and payments to be made from an employer to a current or a former employee in return for a waiver by the employee of any defined contractual and statutory employment law claims, for example unfair dismissal. For a settlement agreement to be legally binding an employee must seek independent legal advice on its terms.

Sex Discrimination

Unfavourable treatment on the grounds of a person’s gender; or a policy or a criterion which has an adverse effect due to a person’s sex or marital status.

Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Unfavourable treatment on the grounds of a person’s sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation.

Skeleton Argument

A skeleton argument is intended to identify both for the parties and the court, those points which are, and those that are not, in issue, and the nature of the argument in relation to those points which are in issue.

Summary Dismissal

Is the termination of a worker's employment due to a serious incident (usually gross misconduct) that can justify not providing any notice before the termination or any payment in lieu of notice.



When a business is transferred from one owner to another, The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) protects employees' terms and conditions of employment.

Employees of the previous owner when the business changes hands automatically become employees of the new employer on the same terms and conditions. Employers are required to inform and consult employees affected directly or indirectly by the transfer.

Trade Union

An organisation of workers who have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts (collective bargaining) with employers.


Unfair Dismissal

An Unfair Dismissal occurs when an employer dismisses an employee for an unfair reason and/or the employer does not follow the correct procedure for the dismissal.



Is a specific term used in discrimination law. A person is victimised if they are treated less favourably because they have complained of discrimination or assisted or supported a colleague with their claim.


Vexatious litigation is when a claim is brought, regardless of its merits, solely to harass or subdue the other party.

Filing vexatious litigation is considered an abuse of the judicial process and may result in sanctions against the offender.


Whistle Blowing

The official name for whistleblowing is ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’. If there is some form of wrongdoing in the workplace, it can be reported and the person’s employment rights are protected and they cannot be victimised by their employer.

Whistleblowers are protected for public interest, to encourage people to speak out if they find malpractice in an organisation or workplace.

Malpractice could be improper, illegal or negligent behaviour by anyone in the workplace.


Wages can include fees, bonuses, commissions, holiday pay, statutory sick pay, maternity pay etc.

Witness order

A Tribunal order forcing an unwilling witness to come to the tribunal.

Witness statement

Written statement containing a witness’s tribunal evidence.

Without Prejudice

Phrase often used in settlement negotiations meaning “off the record”.

Wrongful Dismissal

Wrongful Dismissal is based on contract law. Any claim for wrongful dismissal will therefore mean looking at an employment contract to see if the contract has been broken.

The most common breach is where an employee is dismissed without notice or the notice given is too short. An employer can often justify dismissing an employee without notice (Summary Dismissal) if the employee commits a serious breach of the contract.

Wrongful dismissal claims can be brought in the employment tribunal, county court or High Court depending on the value of the claim.




Zero Hours Contract

Is a common term for a contract under which an employer does not guarantee to provide work and pays only for work actually done.


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