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Writing a witness statement for an employment tribunal

This advice applies to England

You’ll always be a witness in your own employment tribunal case. The usual way to give evidence to the tribunal is by writing a witness statement. This is an important document and you should take care when you write it. Check any document you’ve had from the tribunal saying how to set out your statement. 

If you have any other witnesses, they’ll also have to write statements. You’ll need to get copies of their statements to give to the tribunal and your employer. 

It's important to get your statement right because the tribunal won't allow you to add anything or change your evidence once the witness statements have been exchanged unless there's a very good reason.

Check how to write your witness statement

If you have a representative, they’ll help you prepare your witness statement to make sure your evidence is properly organised. They should check with you that it's accurate.

If you don't have a representative, you'll need to write your witness statement yourself. You can check who can help you write your witness statement.

If you’re writing your own witness statement

You should type your witness statement and number each paragraph. You can use headings - for example if you’re making more than one claim, you could have a heading for each. 

Your statement is the document that links all the evidence in your file of documents - the file is called a ‘bundle’. The tribunal will have read your statement but not all the documents in the bundle. You’ll need to refer them to the relevant documents by mentioning them in your statement. 

When you refer to documents in the bundle, put the page number in brackets after the name of the document - for example, ‘in my grievance letter of 14 February 2020 (p16)’.

Your statement should say what happened, in the order that it happened. It should be as clear as possible. You should use the full names of anyone you mention, but use the same language you would normally use. 

If there was any bad language used during the situation your case is about - including by you - you should put this in. Don’t be embarrassed by this as tribunals are used to hearing bad language in cases. The statement must be true and accurate even if this means including things that aren’t helpful to your case.

The tribunal will usually make an order for the date when witness statements should be exchanged - this is normally 1 or 2 weeks before the hearing. It's a good idea to agree a date and time with the employer so they don't see your statement before they write theirs. You’ll usually exchange statements by email. 

You can’t change your statement after you’ve seen your employer’s. You can deal with any differences between the statements at the tribunal. 

If your employer’s statement mentions a document you haven’t seen, you should ask to see it. If it’s relevant to your case, ask for it to be added to the bundle.

Check what to say in your witness statement

Start with saying who you are, then give your address and a brief description of your job and how long you worked for your employer. 

The following example shows the beginning of the witness statement of Donald Drake. He’s claiming unfair dismissal after 14 years with his employer. 

Example

Case no: 123456/2021

I, Donald Drake, of 1 Pond Lane, Anytown AT1 2AB, make this statement in support of my claim to the employment tribunal.

  1. I worked as a [job title] for [name of employer]. My job involved [add main job duties]

  2. I loved my job and had worked there very happily for 14 years when I was dismissed. 

Your witness statement should then set out your side of the story clearly. It should include everything that’s relevant to your case. Set out events in date order as it will be easier for the tribunal to understand. You want the tribunal to understand what happened and why you’re making your claim. 

If you have more than one claim, make sure you include evidence for each one. For example, if you’re claiming unfair dismissal and that you haven’t had your holiday pay, say:

  • what happened when you were dismissed

  • why your dismissal was unfair

  • how much holiday pay you got

  • how much holiday pay you think you should have had

You should back up what you say with references to the relevant documents in the bundle - like your payslips or holiday record.

Make sure everything you say is true. If you’re not sure about a date, don’t make it up - try to say roughly when it happened. For example, say ‘in summer 2020’ or ‘about a week after I told my manager I was pregnant’.

At the end of your witness statement you should write ‘This statement is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.’ This is called a ‘statement of truth’. Then sign and date it. 

At the tribunal

You won’t have to read the witness statement out loud at the tribunal. Tribunals will have read all the witness statements before or at the start of the hearing. 

You and your witnesses must be familiar with your statements as you won’t have the opportunity to be reminded of your evidence in the tribunal. You'll have a copy in front of you at the tribunal. You can refer to it when your employer or the tribunal ask you questions about your evidence.

You can find out more about giving evidence at an employment tribunal

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