What can I do before taking my employer to a tribunal?

We’ve had quite a few searches on Motherswhowork.co.uk about taking your employer to an employment tribunal. And it’s no wonder – sometimes mums can literally be squeezed out of their jobs as soon as their employer finds out that they are pregnant.

From making things difficult when mums need to go to antenatal appointments, or just plain sex discrimination, the issues are as wide and complex as can be. We spoke to employment relations service Acas for advice on handling disputes at work.

The law helps by giving parents specific employment rights ? but these rights work best as part of a well thought out company policy. Most employers are aware of the challenges facing parents, and increasingly many either have in place or are considering providing work arrangements that offer flexibility.

Know your rights

But there are always those employers who will try to overlook these rights, even though they know you are entitled to them ? or that they will loose if taken to court.

Working mums and mums-to-be have a range of employment rights at work, including:

  • time off for antenatal care
  • time off for dependents
  • flexible working
  • maternity allowance
  • maternity leave
  • statutory maternity pay
  • annual leave

How to settle disputes at work

If you have a dispute with your employer at work about your rights, the best thing you can do is sort the problem out as quickly as possible. So, what do you do when there is a dispute about your rights at work:

  1. Settle the dispute in your workplace. You should always try to resolve a problem or dispute with your manager or employer first. This might be through your organisation?s grievance procedure. Both You can also contact Acas for advice by calling its helpline. Trying to sort out any problems as soon as they arise is the best course of action to bring a speedy resolution to your problem.
  1. Mediation is the most common way to disputes. It involves an independent, impartial person helping to reach a solution that is acceptable to both parties. Mediation is not prescriptive, so it doesn?t make judgments or determine outcomes, but it can help you and your employer to make progress in resolving your differences. A mediator will often meet with you and your employer separately, perhaps several times, and then meet with you together.
  2. You can make a complaint to an employment tribunal if you believe your employment rights have been denied or infringed. A tribunal hearing has various remedies and awards it can make, depending on the type of case. For example, if the tribunal decides an employee has been unfairly dismissed, the remedy could, depending on the circumstances, be a re-instatement or compensation. Costs can also be awarded. Complaints must normally be made within three months of the date of the alleged infringement ? although there are exceptions (full details are on the Acas website). For nearly all types of complaint, once an application is received, an Acas conciliator will contact both you and your employer to see if a settlement can be reached before the case reaches a hearing.


For more information about your employment rights and how to assert those rights, call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 47 47 or visit us at www.acas.org.uk.

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