Glossary

As you go through a grievance process, you might find terms you haven't heard before. Here are some explanations for the terms we use on this site.

Ableism

Discrimination against disabled people.

ACAS

A public body that you need to contact if you want to make a Tribunal claim. Their role is to help settle your claim out of court. Most of the time you need to get a certificate from ACAS before you can make a Tribunal claim.

ACAS certificate

Another way to describe an ACAS Early Conciliation certificate.

ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures

A document setting out the minimum procedure which you and your employer should follow for handling disciplinary or grievance issues.

Read the Code on the ACAS website

ACAS conciliation number

The number on your ACAS early concilation certificate. You need to put this number into your ET1 claim form if you want to make an Employment Tribunal claim.

ACAS conciliator

A member of staff from ACAS who acts as a go-between to help you settle your case. You need to contact ACAS before you can make a Tribunal claim.

ACAS Early Conciliation

ACAS Early Conciliation certificate

The certificate that ACAS will give you if you do not reach an agreement during the Early Conciliation period.

ACAS uplift

The Tribunal can increase compensation in some cases by up to 25% if the Respondent has not complied with the ACAS Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

Aggravated damages

A type of compensation which you can get in some circumstances where the Respondent's behaviour has been particularly bad.

Anti-bullying and harassment policy

A policy setting out the responsibilities of employees and managers not to engage in bullying and harassment behaviours. It should also describe how complaints of bullying and harassment should be dealt with. Many employers have such a policy, although it's not mandatory to have one.

Appeal

An application to a higher decision-maker for the original decision to be changed. For example, an employee can make a grievance appeal if they are not happy with the original grievance decision. The grievance appeal would be heard by someone more senior who was not previously involved in the grievance.

Application to Amend

An email or letter that you write to the Tribunal if you need to make any changes to your claim after you have submitted your ET1.

Automatic unfair dismissal

A dismissal will be automatically unfair if it is because of one of a list of specified reasons, such as making a flexible working request or being pregnant. Unlike 'ordinary' unfair dismissal, you usually do not need to have 2 years' service to make a claim. See the full list of reasons on the Citizens' Advice website.

Breach of contract

Where either you or your employer breaks a term in your employment contract. You may be able to make a claim in the Employment Tribunal if this happens.

Bundle

The file of documents that forms the evidence in a case. For example, this could include emails with your employer that show you have been treated unfavourably.

Case Management Agenda

A template document which the Tribunal sends to both you and the Respondent to fill in before the first Preliminary Hearing. It can save time if you can agree on what you say.

Case Management Orders

Formal instructions that the Tribunal give to you and/or the Respondent during the case, to progress things.

Case Management Preliminary Hearing

A hearing held towards the beginning of your case, when the timetable for the case is agreed, and the key issues are discussed.

Cast List

A list of all of the different people referred to in a Tribunal case, setting out their name and role.

Chronology

A document setting out a brief description of each of the events that are relevant to the case, in chronological order.

CJRS

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - see Furlough.

Claim form

Another way of describing the ET1.

Claimant

This means you, the person bringing the claim.

Comparator

In some discrimination cases, you need to demonstrate that there was a real or hypothetical comparator. This means someone who is in either the same or a similar situation to you, but who doesn’t have your protected characteristic.

Conciliation

The process by which ACAS helps you and the Respondent try to come to an agreement out of court. This might be through Early Conciliation or by helping once you have submitted your ET1.

Conciliator

Constructive dismissal

When your employer has conducted themself so badly that you are forced to resign.

Continuous service

The length of time you have worked for your employer under continuous contracts, without having left their employment. Length of continuous service affects various employment rights, such as the right to claim unfair dismissal.

COT3

The document used to settle a claim out of court through ACAS.

COT3 settlement package

Another way to describe the terms set out in your COT3.

Cross-examination

The stage during a Tribunal hearing when your representatives have a chance to ask questions of the Respondent's witnesses, and vice versa.

Data Protection Act 2018

The law that protects how people use your personal information. It is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Direct discrimination

When you are treated worse than someone else because of a protected characteristic.

Disability

You’re disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Disciplinary proceedings

The formal way your employer can deal with concerns about your behaviour - such as concerns about your work, conduct or absence.

Disclosure

A standard step for Tribunal cases where each party is ordered to send each other any documents they have which are relevant to the case.

Discrimination

When you are treated worse than someone else in specific circumstances - for example, for reasons that relate to a protected characteristic.

Discrimination arising from disability

When you're treated unfairly because of something connected to your disability rather than the disability itself.

Dismissal

When you are asked to leave your job (or in the case of constructive dismissal, you have resigned). This might be for fair reasons, but you might have a valid claim for some kind of unlawful dismissal depending on the reasons for the dismissal and the process your employer followed.

Document

A document is any piece of evidence that relates to your case and might form part of the Hearing Bundle. It might be a text document, or might be an image or screenshot. You can also add audio and video files to the Documents section of Valla.

Early Conciliation

When ACAS talks to you and the Respondent about your dispute, and tries to help you to come to an agreement out of court.

In most cases, you need to have gone through Early Conciliation before you can submit your ET1. If you are in Early Conciliation, the time limit for submitting your ET1 will be extended.

Employee Panel member

Someone who sits as part of the Tribunal panel and has experience of employee issues, such as a trade union official.

Employer Panel member

Someone who sits as part of the Tribunal panel and has experience of employer issues, such as HR.

Employment Appeal Tribunal

A public body (like a court) which is responsible for handling appeals against decisions made by the Employment Tribunal.

Employment Tribunal

A public body (like a court) that decides legal cases about employment law.

Equal Pay

An area of law which means that men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive equal pay, unless there is a justification for the difference. This is set out in the Equality Act 2010.

Equality Act 2010

A law which applies to prohibit discrimination related to protected characteristics.

ET1

The legal form which you complete and submit to the Tribunal to start your claim.

Access the ET1 form on the Government website

ET3

The legal form which the Respondent completes and submits to the Tribunal to respond to your claim (ET1).

Access the ET3 form on the Government website

Expert witness

A type of witness with specific expertise, who comments on a specific issue relevant to your claim (for example, a medical expert such as a specialist consultant doctor).

Failure to make reasonable adjustments

When your employer has breached their duty to make reasonable adjustments. This is a type of disability discrimination.

Final hearing

A hearing at which the Tribunal decides whether you have won your claim, or part of your claim.

Flexible working

A way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. If you've worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks, you have a legal right to make a flexible working request and your employer must deal with this reasonably.

Formal grievance

When you raise a grievance under the formal stage of a grievance procedure.

How to raise a formal grievance

Furlough

The furlough scheme in the UK started in March 2020 when restrictions were introduced around the Covid-19 pandemic. It ended in September 2021. It gave government funding to businesses so that they could continue paying up to 80% of people's salary when they weren't able to work due to the pandemic - subject to certain guidelines. It was formally named the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Further and better particulars

Where more information about a claim is provided by either the Respondent or the Claimant. Often this is because one side has asked for more details.

GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulation - a law which relates to privacy and how your employer should deal with your personal data.

Grievance

A complaint which you make to your employer under the employer's grievance procedure.

How to raise a grievance

Grievance meeting

A meeting with your employer to talk about, and try to resolve, your grievance.

Grievance procedure

A document that sets out the process for raising a grievance, and how your employer should respond to the grievance.

Gross misconduct

When an employee has committed serious wrongdoing, such as theft or violent behaviour. In these circumstances, an employer could summarily dismiss them, as long as they follow a fair procedure.

Harassment

Behaviour that relates to a protected characteristic and is unwanted. This behaviour must make you feel, or be intended to make you feel, intimidated, degraded, or offended. Note that there is a separate definition for sexual harassment.

Hearing bundle

See Bundle.

Indirect discrimination

Where there is a rule, a practice, or an arrangement which puts you at a particular disadvantage compared to others in a way that relates to a protected characteristic.

Industrial Tribunal

In Northern Ireland, Employment Tribunals are known as Industrial Tribunals. As employment law is devolved in Northern Ireland, our guidance at Valla is only for England, Scotland and Wales.

Informal grievance

Where a grievance is raised informally, for example by speaking to a manager about a complaint.

Injury to feelings

Compensation which you can be awarded when you have been hurt or distressed because you have been discriminated against.

Intersex

A person whose biological attributes do not match with traditional assumptions as to what is male or female. They may identify as male, female or non-binary.

Judge

Judgment

The Tribunal's decision, which is usually given in writing. It may also be given orally at the hearing.

Judicial Mediation

An optional step in the Employment Tribunal process where a Judge tries to help the parties come to a settlement.

Legislation

Laws (such as the Equality Act 2010) which are made by Parliament.

List of documents

The initial list that the Tribunal will normally ask you to produce, which sets out a description all of the documents which you are relying upon or are which are relevant to your case (usually in chronological order).

Mediation

A way of dealing with an issue at work. The aim of mediation is to repair relationships and find a solution that everyone can agree to. It is led by a neutral person called the 'mediator'. Note that this is different to Judicial Mediation.

Medical evidence

Documents relating to medical issues that are relevant to your case, for example letters from a doctor or fit (sick) notes.

Mitigation of loss

Your duty to reduce the losses you have experienced. For example if you have lost your job, you should conduct a search for a new job or get medical evidence to show why you have not done so. Otherwise, the Tribunal may reduce the amount of compensation it awards.

Non-binary

A person who does not identify as a ‘man’ or ‘woman’, or their gender identity does not sit comfortably with either the term 'man' or 'woman'.

Notice of Acknowledgement

The letter that the Employment Tribunal sends to tell you they have accepted your ET1.

Oral submissions

When submissions are given orally at the end of a hearing.

Order

In the Tribunal context, see Case Management Orders.

Ordinary unfair dismissal

An informal term for an unfair dismissal that is not "automatically unfair".

Panel

Paper Apart

The document which you attach to your ET1 form, to give more detail about the claim, in Scotland.

Particulars of Claim

The document which you attach to your ET1 form, to give more detail about the claim, in England and Wales.

Preliminary Hearing

A Tribunal hearing which takes place before the final hearing. This might be a Case Management Preliminary Hearing or a Substantive Preliminary Hearing.

Protected characteristic

Age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

Read more about the legal protections for these characteristics

Protected disclosure

A protected disclosure is a whistleblowing concern which you raise when you reasonably believe there is, or is likely to be, wrongdoing within the workplace. It will usually relate to issues such as health and safety concerns or potential illegal activity.

Reasonable adjustments

A change to help you to do your job, or apply for a job, to reduce the impact of your disability. Your employer has a duty to make these adjustments, as long as they are reasonable.

Redundancy

When you are dismissed because your role is no longer necessary. There is a specific legal definition of redundancy and employers need to follow a specific process to make someone redundant.

Reengagement

When a Tribunal orders an employer to let an employee come back to them on similar terms and conditions (although not to the same job). This is a potential remedy for unfair dismissal.

Reinstatement

When a Tribunal orders an employer to give an employee back the same job as they had before leaving the employer. This is a potential remedy for unfair dismissal.

Remedy

The compensation awarded if your claim is successful. This normally consists of financial compensation but can also include non-monetary remedies, like your employer having to reinstate you.

Remedy Hearing

A hearing at which the Tribunal decides what remedy you receive. A remedy hearing will only be held if you are successful in at least one of your claims.

Remedy Statement

A witness statement that gives evidence relating to what remedy you think you should be awarded. You may need to prepare this statement if there is a Remedy Hearing.

Resignation

When you tell your employer that you are leaving your job, normally giving your contracted notice period.

Respondent

The person or organisation which the Tribunal claim is made against (usually your employer).

Schedule of loss

A document you prepare to set out the remedy you are seeking.