HOW TO FILL IN AN ET1 FORM
What is an ET1 Form?
If you have been dismissed, pushed out of work or victimised for whistleblowing you have a right to make a legal claim to the Employment Tribunal for compensation. An ET1 form is the form you must complete to start your claim with the Employment Tribunal. You can submit an ET1 yourself or with the assistance of a solicitor or adviser.
The Employment Tribunal process can be time consuming, expensive and stressful; you should seek advice and consider what other options may be available to you before submitting a claim.
1. What should I do before I complete the ET1 Form?
Check the Time Limit
There are strict time limits to bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal – usually 3 months (minus 1 day) from the date of dismissal or the date of the victimisation. If the victimisation is ongoing, this time limit will usually run from the last act of victimisation.
If you are an employee and your dismissal was less than 7 days ago you could put in an application for Interim Relief. Interim Relief is an order by the Employment Tribunal that preserves your employment (at least formally) until the Tribunal has decided on your claim. To apply for interim relief you will need to submit an ET1 within 7 days of being dismissed, see our advice page for more information.
Before you can submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal you need to contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to let them know that you want to make a claim. Acas will offer you ‘early conciliation.’ This is the process whereby Acas will try to help you and your employer find a resolution or make an agreement instead of going to the tribunal. Once you have contacted Acas the clock stops on the time limit.
If you do not reach an agreement through early conciliation, you can then submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal. When the process is finished Acas will give you a ‘early conciliation certificate,’ this contains a number that you need in order to complete the ET1 form. You have one month minus a day from the end of the early conciliation process to submit the ET1 form.
You do not need a solicitor or legal representation to go to the Employment Tribunal but if you can access legal advice it is likely to be beneficial. Our Advice Line can advise on how best to raise your concern and your protection as whistleblower, but we do not advocate at the Employment Tribunal, so we cannot represent you. Please see our advice page for more information on how to access advice.
2. How do I complete the ET1 Form?
It is best to complete the ET1 form online. You should aim to complete and submit the form as early as possible to make sure your application is received by the tribunal within the time limit.
Section’s 1 to 7 are where you provide details about you, your employer, and the nature of your employment relationship. These sections are mostly self-explanatory and further guidance on how to complete these sections can be found here.
A few points to note about sections 1 – 7
- Section 1 – This is where you add your details. As the worker bringing the tribunal claim against the employer you are referred to the as the ‘claimant’.
- Section 2 – This is where you put the respondents’ details. The respondent is the employer against whom you are making the claim(s). The respondent’s name should match the respondent’s name on your Acas conciliation certificate.
- Section 2.3 – Here you add the Acas certificate number we referred to above. It is important to ensure that you add the certificate number accurately.
You can add multiple respondents. For example, alongside your employer there may be individual colleagues who are personally responsible for the detrimental treatment you received or for your dismissal. If you add multiple respondents you will need a different Acas certificate number for each respondent, you can obtain this by contacting Acas directly.
If required you can add two additional respondents in Section 13.
Section 8 is the most important part of the ET1 form. This is where you will explain to the tribunal the type of claim you are making and set out the details of your case.
Section 8.1 – Type of Claim
Section 8.1 contains several boxes indicating the types of claim that you can make as well as a space to add different claims that do not fit into the prescribed boxes. You should tick all the boxes that apply to your case.
The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1996 (PIDA) provides the right to bring two different types of claim against an employer:
i. Unfair Dismissal if you are an employee
If you are claiming unfair dismissal (whether actual or constructive) because of whistleblowing you should tick this box. You can only make a claim for unfair dismissal if you are an employee under s230(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. If you are a worker you may be able to bring detriment claim instead. Contact our advice line if you are unsure of your status or what claims you can bring. You should also make a statement in the box provided such as “this is a claim for automatically unfair dismissal under section 103A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 suffered as a result of making a protected disclosure pursuant to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.” For more information about unfair dismissal please see our advice page.
ii. Detriment claim if you are an employee or worker
There is no box to tick for a detriment claim so you will need to explain that this is the type to claim you are making in the box provided. You can add a sentence such as “this is a claim for detriment under section 47B of the Employment Rights Act 1996 suffered as a result of making a protected disclosure pursuant to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.”
For more information about victimisation and detriment please see our advice page.
Multiple Different Types of Claims
It is possible that you may have a right to bring several different types of claim, if this is the case you should tick all the boxes that apply to your case and add additional information if required about the different types of claims you are bringing. For example, as an employee you may have experienced detrimental treatment at work prior to being dismissed. In this example you may wish to bring a claim for the detrimental treatment you received prior to being dismissed as well as a claim for unfair dismissal.
It is also possible that you may have a right to bring another type of claim that is not prescribed by PIDA. For example, you may have experienced discrimination because of a protected characteristic as well as detrimental treatment for whistleblowing. You should tick all the boxes that are relevant to your case.
Section 8.2 – Details of Claim
This is where you write a statement setting out the basis of the claim(s) you are bringing. It is important that you are accurate, clear and specific and that you provide all the relevant information.
When bringing a claim under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA) there are several elements that you as the claimant must prove to the tribunal. You must write the statement with these elements in mind.
The two key elements you must show when brining a claim under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 are:
That you made a protected disclosure(s).
Raising a whistleblowing concern is known as making a ‘protected disclosure.’ To receive protection under PIDA and therefore to have the right to bring a whistleblowing detriment or dismissal claim you must first have made a protected disclosure.
When assessing whether you made a protected disclosure the tribunal will look to see that a number of tests have been met:
- That you, the employee or worker, disclosed information that you reasonably believed showed wrongdoing that falls under one of the six categories of wrongdoing set out in the legislation (see s43B of the Employment Rights Act 1996), and that you reasonably believed that the disclosure was in the public interest.
- That you disclosed the information in the correct way to the correct person or organisation. For example, the person named in your employers whistleblowing policy or a regulator.
That the protected disclosure is the reason you were treated detrimentally or dismissed
Once the tribunal has established that you made a protected disclosure(s) they will then look to see that the protected disclosure was the reason you were treated detrimentally or dismissed. The tribunal will use a different test depending on whether you are claiming detriment or dismissal. For a detriment claim under PIDA you will need to establish ‘material influence.’ For a dismissal claim under PIDA you will need to show that the protected disclosure was the ‘principal or primary reason’ for your dismissal.
How to structure your ET1 statement
It is a good idea to structure the statement chronologically in short numbered paragraphs. It is not effective to write a long narrative giving lots of historic details to the tribunal – you should instead focus on the key aspects of your claim. Once you have submitted the ET1 claim form you will have the opportunity to make a witness statement, this is where you will provide detailed information about your claim and set out your evidence. The ET1 statement should be more concise then your witness statement and does not need to be as detailed. You can use the structure we have suggested below as a guide to help you write your statement.
1. Key background information. The first paragraph should set out key information about your employment, you should include details such as:
- the organization you worked for and the type of business or industry they are
- The date you started working for the organization and the date that you stopped working for them (if you have left)
- Your job title, and key duties and responsibilities
2. Facts of your case. You should then set out the facts of the case and the concerns you raised. You should add information such as:
- The specific details of your concerns. The date, time, and location that acts or issues occurred, and when and how they came to your attention. Exactly what did you see, hear or read that made you concerned.
- Why did this make you feel concerned? For example, were there health and safety concerns that put other workers at risk or did you know that it was a breach of safeguarding policy.
- If you raised several concerns you should detail each concern in a separate paragraph and be as specific as possible.
- Is there any evidence such as emails, letters, notes or paperwork that can prove you concerns? If so you can say what they are, but at this stage of the tribunal process you do not need to provide any evidence.
- Identify relevant managers or colleagues by their full name and job title.
3. Details of the protected disclosure. Next you need to clearly state that you made a “protected disclosure” and evidence this by providing information to show that the concerns you raised and the way you raised the concerns meet the required legal tests to be a protected disclosure.
A. You should start by stating that you made a protected disclosure and provide information about the disclosure(s)
- Provide the date and time you made the disclosure
- Details who you made the disclosure to, where and in what format i.e. written or oral. If you raised your concerns in accordance with your organizations whistleblowing or grievance policy, you should state so here.
- You should provide as much detail as possible about the information you disclosed. Be specific, don’t just say that you disclosed health and safety breaches, say exactly what the health and safety breaches you disclosed where.
- If you made several disclosures, you should list each disclosure separately and provide all the details mentioned above.
B. You then need to state which of the six categories of wrongdoing listed under PIDA, the concerns tend to show. More information on the six categories of wrong doing can be found here.
C. Next state that the disclosure was in the public interest and explain why this is the case. Find out more about public interest here.
- Provide information such as the number of people affected by the concerns, and who those people are. The position of those responsible for the wrong doing and seriousness of the concerns.
D. Then detail the response you received to your protected disclosure. Did the organization follow their own whistleblowing or grievance policy? Did the organization follow the ACAS process for disciplinary action or dismissal?
4. Detriment or Dismissal. Explain that you believe you have suffered detrimental treatment or been dismissed because of the protected disclosure(s) you made. Provide details of the detrimental treatment you received and/or the events leading up to your dismissal.
- List every example of negative treatment you received as a result of the protected disclosure. Again, you need to be specific. Include when and where the treatment happened, and who was responsible. You should also clearly detail what the treatment was for example don’t just say “X was consistently rude” you should explain exactly what X said that was rude.
- It is important to be accurate if you cannot remember the exact wording of a remark you should add the statement “…or words to that effect” after saying what you think was said.
- The same principles apply if you are making a claim for unfair dismissal. You should list all events, actions and incidents that led up to the dismissal and any examples that evidence the reason for your dismissal was the protected disclosure.
- Your experience of working at the organization prior to making the protected disclosure. Consider questions such as: did you have a good relationship with your colleagues and manager prior to disclosing your concerns? Did you receive positive feedback in appraisals or a promotion, award, or recognition for your work? Did you experience negative treatment or bad working conditions prior to the disclosure?
5. Legal argument. Finally, you should set out the legal argument. It is useful to clearly inform the tribunal that you are making a claim under the Public Interest Disclosure Act. You can make a statement such as “I was dismissed / treated detrimentally as a result of raising a protected disclosure(s) contrary to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 and/or my dismissal amounts to automatic unfair dismissal under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and/or unlawful detrimental treatment.”
This is where you explain to the tribunal what you want to happen if your claim is successful. Under PIDA the employment tribunal has the power to provide unlimited compensation or to reinstate you in your old job or another job with the same employer. If you do not want to return to your employer or your employer is unwilling to accept your return to the workplace, as is often the case, then your only option will be to request compensation. For more information about compensation and your duty to mitigate your loss when out of work please see our advice page.
The Employment Tribunal can provide a copy of your claim to the relevant regulator for your employer. If you have not already contacted a regulator about your concerns you may wish to allow the Employment Tribunal to do so. The employment tribunal only has the power to grant compensation and cannot investigate your claims, a regulator on the other hand does have this power. If you have not already informed a regulator of your concerns we recommend that you contact our Advice Line before ticking this box.
These sections are all relatively self-explanatory. As mentioned above you can add two additional respondents in section 13 if required.
Section 15 provides a space to add further information, for example if you are making a group claim and your claim is linked to other cases you should add the Acas early conciliation certificate number for the other people in your group here.
3. What happens once I have submitted my ET1 claim form?
You should submit the ET1 form online via the government website. It is your responsibility to ensure the tribunal receive your form on time (unless a solicitor or adviser says that they will do it on your behalf). The tribunal will use the date they receive the form not the date that you sent the form to calculate whether you are still within the time limit.
Make sure that you save a copy of your form as the Employment Tribunal will not automatically provide you with a copy. You should receive a confirmation from the tribunal that they have received the form.
Once the claim form has been submitted the tribunal will send a copy to your employer who will then have the option to respond or defend themselves.
It can take several months to receive a date for your employment tribunal hearing. Whilst you wait you can continue to engage in conciliation if you wish. Organizations such as Your Employment Settlement Service (YESS) can provide advice on reaching a settlment. You can also use the time to prepare your witness statement, find legal advice and compile evidence. You can find a list of solicitors on the law society website, and organizations such as LawWorks may be able to help you access pro bono legal representation.