When a workplace dispute cannot be resolved internally, it can be raised to an employment tribunal. Depending on the issue, you might reach a settlement agreement through conciliation.
If claim’s been raised, you need to respond using an ET3 form in a timely manner.
The employment tribunal will reject your response on an ET3 if it doesn't contain the minimum information required. It will be the same if you don’t respond back in a timely manner.
In this guide, we'll explain what an ET3 form is, how to respond to it, and what happens if you fail to submit it properly.
What is an ET3 form?
An ET3 form (or form ET3) is a document that employers use to respond to an employment tribunal claim.
You can use this form to accept or deny the information provided by your employee and describe your counter-argument.
Before making a claim, ACAS gives both parties the chance to resolve their issue through early conciliation, although this is not mandatory.
How do you complete the ET3 response form?
To complete the ET3 response form, you need the following information:
- Your case number: You can find this on the letter from the tribunal.
- Claimant’s employment details: This includes their start and end dates, and job description.
- Claimant’s pay and benefits details: This includes earnings before tax, take-home pay, and notice
- ACAS early conciliation details: This includes the early conciliation certificate number, and if you disagree that the claimant is exempt from early conciliation.
- A description of your response: This includes details on whether you defend the claim or not, and the dates and the people involved.
- Your legal representative's contact details: Their name, address, phone number, organisation, and DX number (if you hire a solicitor to represent you).
If your ET3 response lacks the necessary information, it will be returned. This means the claim will be treated as if nothing was received.
Despite the fact that you'll be able to submit witness statements, your initial response to the ET3 will form the basis of your defence.
You should expect to hear back within five working days after the tribunal receives your response.
What happens if you fail to submit an ET3?
If you fail to submit the form ET3 within the deadline, the claim will be considered as if no defence was presented.
In this situation, a "default judgement" may be entered against you. This also applies if you submit the form late or incorrectly.
What are the time limits for the ET3 form?
You have 28 days from the day the employment tribunal sent you a copy of the claimant's form to respond to it.
The time limit for sending forms back doesn’t start until the response pack has been sent to you. If you need an extension, you should write your request as soon as possible and explain all the reasons you need more time.
For example, you may need an extension if some of the directors working under you who are involved need to take annual leave.
What happens after submitting the ET3 form?
After submitting form ET3, a tribunal judge will decide whether the case requires a preliminary hearing or not.
The tribunal could issue a case management order that includes directions and time limits for compliance.
If the case is complicated, a preliminary hearing may be needed. An example of this is when the claimant alleges illegal discrimination.
Before the hearing, you should receive a letter informing you of the date and clarifying the topic to be discussed.
What happens at an employment tribunal?
The final hearing might take anything from half a day to several weeks. The length of it depends on the depth of the issues involved and the number of witnesses present.
The tribunal will reach a conclusion after weighing the claim and defence, as well as any submissions required from the parties. This can be relevant evidence provided in support.
The decision could be communicated to you on the same day. In some cases, the tribunal notifies the parties in writing after the hearing.
Employment tribunal outcomes
If the claim is successful, the employment tribunal rules on the consequences. In complex cases, the issue of remedies will be adjourned to a later hearing.
You could be ordered to reinstate a dismissed claimant. For example, following a tribunal finding of unfair dismissal. The tribunal may also order you to pay reasonable compensation.
You can reclaim legal expenses if the claimant acted unreasonably or if their claim had no reasonable chance of success.
If the claim is unsuccessful, you won't be awarded any costs.
Get expert advice on ET3 forms with Peninsula
Employers should use an ET3 to outline their defence. They can also use it to present any supporting evidence for any employment tribunal claim brought against them.
If you don’t follow the proper process for sending the form, the employment judge might issue a default judgement in favour of the claimant. In this case, you, as the respondent, could end up paying very high fees.
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