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Check what you can get from an employment tribunal

This advice applies to England

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’

You can find out more about compensation for unfair dismissal.

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.

You can find out more about compensation for discrimination

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 should make a claim to the county 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. 

Example

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. 

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