Oh no. A letter has landed on your desk from Jessica, a disgruntled former employee. She is taking you to court for unfair dismissal.
Pushing all your other post to one side, and turning off your constantly pinging emails, you immediately contact her line manager and your HR colleagues to find out what happened.
They update you about the situation. It seems Jessica never turned up on time. She dithered about the job. She was rude to customers. She was given verbal warnings and written warnings prior to being sacked. Despite conciliation with ACAS, Jessica is disputing her dismissal.
You have 28 days to respond using the online service or the printed form. Sighing, you put the issue to the top of your priority list.
Will she settle, you wonder? Perhaps Jessica may drop the case in return for some compensation.
You sip your coffee, but decide that’s not fair. With her bad behaviour, she surely deserved to lose her job. Hopefully, all the company policies and procedures were followed correctly.
But what are your chances of success in an employment tribunal?
You decide to appoint a lawyer to give you advice and to put your case.
The next few weeks are taken up with sourcing the relevant documentation. So that there are no nasty surprises, all your paperwork has to be shown to Jessica, and she has to share all her paperwork with you. This must happen at least seven days before the preliminary hearing.
At the preliminary hearing, management of the case is decided, and a date is decided for witness statements to be completed.
Your witnesses include Mike (Jessica’s boss) and Isobel from HR. Initially, Mike objects, so you write to the tribunal to force him to attend.
Eventually, the date arrives. You need to take six copies of every document to the tribunal, so your personal assistant spends a lot of time at the photocopier.
It’s not nearly as formal as you feared – for example, no one is wearing a wig and gown. When giving evidence, you read out your pre-prepared statement.
The tribunal gives their decision on the same day, or by post a few days later.
Phew. They have ruled in your favour.
If you lost, you would have to pay compensation to Jessica within 14 days, or give her back her job. You might also have to pay a penalty to the Secretary of State, between £100 and £5,000.
Now, back at your desk, you file the paperwork away, and get your focus back on your core business.
Meanwhile, Jessica has 14 days to find new evidence and consider whether or not to appeal, and 42 days to submit her notice of appeal form…
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