How to fill in your ET1 Employment Tribunal claim form
Content / trigger warning
The ET1 form is the first step in your Employment Tribunal case. It’s important to get it right to help save yourself time and hassle.
What is an ET1?
An ET1 is the claim form you need to send to the Employment Tribunal if you want to make a legal claim about an employment law problem.
Before you submit your claim, you must contact ACAS, the public body who can help to resolve your claim through Early Conciliation. This is where they act as a neutral facilitator to see if you can come to an agreement without having to go to Tribunal.
ACAS will issue you an Early Conciliation certificate once:
- you have tried Early Conciliation and it has not worked, or
- either you or your employer didn’t want to try Early Conciliation.
You need the number from your Early Conciliation Certificate to be able to submit your claim.
Be aware of Tribunal deadlines. This is usually 3 months less 1 day from the incident or from the last incident if there were a series of events. So if you’re thinking about making a Tribunal claim, you should contact ACAS and draft your ET1 sooner rather than later.
Although it is possible to amend your ET1 after it’s been submitted, this can be difficult and the Judge won’t always let you do this. So it’s important to get right.
How to fill out the ET1
You can either submit your form online (this is quicker) or you can print a paper copy and post it.
Most of the ET1 form is fairly simple to fill out. The most tricky part is Section 8 - Type and Details of Claim. We can help you fill out this part with our ET1 Particulars of Claim template.
If you can’t afford a lawyer to run your whole case, but have a little bit of money for some advice, this can be a good time to get some legal advice about your best chances of success, so you can understand things like:
- Were you discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic?
- Were you unfairly dismissed?
- Was it direct or indirect discrimination?
This is where you set out the legal claims you’re making.
This is where you give the background and details of why you are making your claim(s).
Because there isn’t a lot of space on the page for this, a lot of people attach a separate document to the form. This is called the Particulars of Claim in England and Wales, or the Paper Apart in Scotland.
How to draft the Particulars of Claim/Paper Apart
If you’re planning to draft a separate document, you can just write “See attached Particulars of Claim/Paper Apart.” in section 8.2.
This is the first document that will be read by the Tribunal - use it as a chance to create a good impression and get your points across well.
- Create a blank document. You can use any word processor but note that if you are making your claim online it needs to be saved in Rich Text Format. (You can see this option in the Save menu.)
- Use the document title ‘Particulars of Claim’ (in England and Wales) or ‘Paper Apart’ (in Scotland)
- Write your full name and your employer’s full name at the top of the document.
It’s also helpful to:
- use headings throughout - this makes it much easier to read
- number your paragraphs. This will make the document easier to refer to in the future. Your word processor should be able to do this for you automatically
- have a sensible structure. We’ve set out an example structure below.
The Claimant - This means you. Start with a brief explanation of your role at the company, and any other key points, like whether you have been dismissed.
The Respondent - This usually means your employer, but can sometimes be a specific colleague. Give a brief factual description of the Respondent - things like what they do and where they are based.
Background - Then move on to set out the background and details of your claim.
Try to do this in chronological order. There is no set length for this, but you should try and stick to the key points. A rule of thumb would be not to include events going back several years, unless they were clearly part of a continuing issue that is part of your claim.
Think about what is relevant to prove your case. For example, if it’s a constructive dismissal claim, what were the serious issues in the run up to your resignation? How did those lead to your resignation?
Legal claims - Set out more specific details about the claims you are making.
For example, if you have selected ‘race discrimination’ in Section 8.1, was this direct or indirect discrimination?
Set out how you can satisfy the key aspects of the law. For example, if it’s a harassment case, then you need to:
- re-iterate which of the 9 Protected Characteristics was the basis of your harassment
- describe the unwanted conduct
- explain how the conduct relates to the protected characteristic
- explain what impact the behaviour has had on you and how it created an ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’
Remedy - It’s good to finish by telling the Tribunal what you want out of your claim. For example:
- payment of unpaid wages
- an order for your employer to reinstate you
- financial compensation for injury to feelings (for discrimination cases)
Include dates (and time of day if relevant) of all key events. For example, “On 3 June 2021 at 10am, I sent Joanne Bloggs, General Manager, an email to ask if we could discuss progress on the project.” The Valla platform can help you to easily produce your timeline of events.
Make sure you define any abbreviations or acronyms you use.
Be polite and clear, but use your own words - you can get your point across using plain language.
However, you should use legal terminology where appropriate. For instance, refer to “the Respondent” instead of using your employer’s name, and use the proper legal names for the legal claims you are making. For example:
- unfair dismissal
- whistleblowing detriment
If you’re not sure how to send the form, or how to answer any of the questions, HM Courts & Tribunals Service have published this helpful guidance [PDF].
What happens next
If you’ve made your claim online, you should get an email acknowledgment straight after you have submitted it. The Tribunal will check you’ve filled in the ET1 form correctly. If they are happy with it, you will then get a formal Notice of Acknowledgement from the Tribunal. If not, your claim will be rejected - you will get a notice explaining how to apply for a reconsideration of the rejection.
The Tribunal will also send a copy of your ET1 to the Respondent.
The Respondent has 28 days to respond to your claim. They do this using a different form (Form ET3), which they send to the Tribunal.
After the Tribunal has received the ET3, they will send you a copy - this could take a few days. It’s important to be patient at this point - don’t chase straight after the 28 days have finished. You can try phoning the Tribunal for an update about a week after the 28 days have passed.