Check what you can get from an employment tribunal
If you make a successful claim to an employment tribunal, it can award you money to compensate for your employer's behaviour or the money you're owed.
Before you make a claim, it's worth calculating how much compensation you're likely to get. This will help:
if you want to ask for compensation, for example as part of taking legal action
- if your employer offers you money in exchange for you agreeing to stop your complaint - this is called settling
Check what a tribunal can award you if you win
The law says how a tribunal should work out what to award you and sets limits on some of the amounts you can get. A tribunal is most likely to award you money but it could also order your employer to take certain actions.
If you’re awarded money this might be:
money your employer owes you, like unpaid holiday pay
compensation for something your employer did wrong - like unfairly dismissing you
You can’t usually get compensation for injury or upset caused at work unless the tribunal decides your employer discriminated against you or that you’ve suffered a detriment. You can find out more about detriment.
If you’re claiming unfair dismissal
If a tribunal decides you’ve been unfairly dismissed, you’ll get compensation which is made up of:
a fixed sum calculated to a set formula - this is called a ‘basic award’
compensation for the actual money you’ve lost as a result of losing your job - this is called a ‘compensatory award’
If you ask for it, a tribunal can order your employer to:
give you your old job back - this is called ‘reinstatement’
find you another job - this is called ‘re-engagement’
If you’re claiming discrimination
You can be compensated for money you’ve lost, distress or injury caused by the discrimination. A tribunal can also recommend your employer take action to stop discrimination - for example, by changing a policy.
If your claim is for unpaid wages
You’ll get the money you’re owed. You might also get an extra amount for other money you’ve lost because you weren’t paid on time, for example, overdraft fees.
If you pay tax, you’ll have to pay tax on the money you’re awarded. Make sure you ask for the full amount you’re owed before tax and national insurance are taken off. This is called the ‘gross amount’.
If your employer didn’t pay you holiday pay
Check if you’ve been paid for any holiday you haven’t been able to take before your job ended. If you haven’t been paid for that, add the amount to your claim. You can check how much holiday pay you should get.
If your claim is for breach of contract
You can only claim breach of contract if you’re not working for your employer anymore.
If you can prove you have lost out financially because of a breach of contract, you might be able to claim compensation. You’ll get what your employer should have paid you if they hadn’t breached the contract. The most you can get is £25,000. If you’re making a claim for more than £25,000, you’ll have to make a claim to the sheriff court.
Counterclaims by your employer
You should be aware that if you make a breach of contract claim, your employer could make a counterclaim. For example, they could make a claim against you if you’ve been overpaid and owe them money. If they can prove that, they can deduct that money from any compensation you might get.
You could claim compensation if your employer has breached your contract, for example if they:
haven’t paid your wages
haven’t paid other money your contract says you should get - like holiday or sick pay
have dismissed you and haven’t paid you during your notice period
haven’t paid pay in lieu of notice if you have been dismissed without the correct notice
haven’t paid the redundancy pay you’re owed under your contract
If your claim is for notice pay
You’ll get the money you should have been paid for your notice period. You can check what notice pay you should get.
You can only be compensated once for your notice period. You can get it either:
as part of your compensation for unfair dismissal
as a separate claim for notice pay
It’s still worth making a claim for notice pay in case you lose your unfair dismissal claim.
If your claim is that you suffered a detriment
If you win a detriment claim, the tribunal will award you compensation taking into account the detriment, any injury to your feelings and money you’ve lost. You can find out more about detriment claims.
If you were dismissed from your job
You can only get compensation for any injury to your feelings caused by something that happened before your dismissal.
Sarah told her manager she thought her workplace was unsafe. Her manager then stopped giving her overtime and started criticising her work. A few months later, he dismissed her.
Sarah could get compensation for any injury or distress caused by the bullying but not injury caused by being dismissed.