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What help can I get with a problem at work

About what help can you get with a problem at work

This page tells you where you can find more help and information if you have a problem at work, or are making a claim to an employment tribunal.

To find out more about making a claim to an employment tribunal, see Employment tribunals.

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Can I get help with my employment tribunal case?

Thinking about making a claim to an employment tribunal can be scary. Many people find it helpful to get some advice before they take action.

There are lots of organisations that might be able to offer you advice, or help with your case. You can find more information and contact details on this page.

You might also want to find someone to help you prepare your case or represent you if there is a hearing. However, when you make a claim to an employment tribunal, you can't automatically get help or representation with your case.

This page gives you some ideas about where you might be able to find someone to help you prepare your case or to represent you if there is a hearing.

But if you can't get advice or representation don't panic! Employment tribunals are set up for ordinary employees to appear on their own and many people don't have a representative. The tribunal are used to people appearing without a representative.

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What's the difference between an adviser and a representative?

If you get help from a Citizens Advice Bureau or other advice agency, this might be from someone who can advise you, or from someone who can represent you.

An adviser is someone who can help you with your case behind the scenes. Usually, they won't talk directly to your employer or formally represent you.

A representative is someone who will be named on the tribunal claim form. They will take responsibility for the preparation of your case and act as your representative in the tribunal. Usually, you'll still have to speak at the tribunal to give your evidence.

All contact about your case will go to your representative, and they will get in touch with you when they need to. If you're going away, for example on holiday, you must tell your representative.

If you have an adviser rather than a representative, the preparation of your case is your responsibility, but your adviser is there to help you along the way. You must keep in contact with your adviser, particularly when you receive anything from the tribunal. Don't put off contacting your adviser about any letters, emails or phone calls you get about your case, for example from the tribunal or your employer’s representative. Sometimes you have to do things within a time limit in response to these.

When you get a date for your hearing, you should contact your adviser immediately. If you leave it until just before the hearing, your adviser may not be able to help you make your final preparations.

You should be aware that an adviser or representative may have to withdraw from your case. This can be for different reasons. For example, it may be because it's easier for a busy representative to prepare cases when they are on the record, or that they can only see how strong your case is after certain procedures are done. Your adviser or representative will talk about this with you if the situation comes up.

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Trade Unions

If you're a member of a trade union, you should contact them to see if they can help with your problem at work, before trying to find help elsewhere. There might be a union representative in your workplace, or you might need to contact your local branch.

You can find out more about your rights at work and as member of a union, and how to contact your union on the Worksmart website at: www.worksmart.org.uk.

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Citizens Advice Bureau

If you live or work within their catchment area, your local Citizens Advice Bureau should be able to give you some help with your employment problem or employment tribunal claim.

Citizens Advice Bureaux provide free, confidential and independent advice from over 3,000 locations including in bureaux, GP surgeries, hospitals, colleges, prisons and courts. Advice is available face-to-face and by telephone. Some bureaux also offer email advice. If you need someone to visit you at home, contact your local bureau to see if they can arrange this.

There might be differences in the help local Citizens Advice Bureaux can give you. Some may be able to give you advice, and others may be able to offer you representation. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to tell you what help it can offer you.

You can find your nearest CAB, including those that give advice by e-mail, by clicking on nearest CAB, or looking under C in your phone book.

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Help from a solicitor

You may have to pay for help from a solicitor, or it may be possible to get free help. There are various different ways a solicitor can be paid for, so it's worth looking into whether any of these could apply to you.

Insurance policies

Some insurance policies include legal cover. This means you might be able to get a solicitor, and sometimes specialist representation, paid for by your insurance company. Check your household insurance, car insurance and any other policies you have, including policies attached to credit cards and mobile phones, or contact your insurance company to find out if you’re covered.

Legal aid

You cannot get legal aid for employment cases unless it is a discrimination problem.

To find out more about legal aid, see Help with legal costs.

No win, no fee agreements

If you can't afford to pay for a solicitor and you can't get legal aid you may be able to find a solicitor who will take your case on a no win no fee basis. If you win or settle your case, you will normally pay up to a third of your compensation to your solicitor. If you're paying for a solicitor in this way, make sure you check your agreement with them carefully at the beginning, so that you're clear about what you're paying.

To find out more about settling an employment tribunal claim, see Understanding ACAS and settlements.

Bar Pro Bono Unit

The Bar Pro Bono Unit may be able to help you with legal advice and representation by trying to find a barrister to work on your case. They provide help to people who can't afford to pay legal fees and who can't get legal aid. To get help from the Bar Pro Bono Unit you have to be referred to them by an advice agency. You can find out more information about the Bar Pro Bono Unit and how to get a referral to them by contacting them  via their website at: www.barprobono.org.uk.

Finding your own solicitor if you have to pay

If you have to find your own solicitor, there are various organisations which may be able to help you do this. Make sure you check carefully what the solicitor’s fees are before you agree to use them.

The Law Society is the representative body for solicitors and may be able to help you find a private solicitor in your area. You can search their online database of solicitors and other legal advisers at:www.lawsociety.org.uk.

You can find a legal adviser on the Legal Adviser Directory. Go to the Ministry of Justice website at www.justice.gov.uk.

For more information about finding and using a solicitor, see Using a solicitor.

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Free Representation Unit (FRU)

FRU can provide advice, help with case preparation and representation in employment tribunal cases. To get help from FRU you have to have started your case and be referred to them by one of their referral agencies. You can find out more information about FRU and how to get a referral to them by contacting them on:

Tel: 020 7611 9555
Fax: 020 7611 9551
Email: available through a form on the website
Website: www.thefru.org.uk

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Law Centres

A Law Centre may be able to offer you free, independent legal advice and representation. They focus on providing legal advice to people who find it difficult to get advice or who are experiencing discrimination. They are funded by the Legal Services Commission and local councils.

You should contact your local Law Centre to see if they're able to help you. You can find their contact details by searching online at: www.lawcentres.org.uk.

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Advice agencies

There may be independent or not-for-profit advice agencies in your area that can help with your employment problem. You can find out what's available in your area by searching on the Community Legal Advice website at: www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk. Or you can look in your phone book.

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LawWorks

If you can't afford to pay for a solicitor and can't get legal aid, LawWorks may be able to help with your employment case. They provide legal advice clinics, and try to find a solicitor to provide free help with mediation and casework. You can apply to LawWorks directly. You can find out more information about their services and how to apply by contacting them on:

Telephone: 0207 929 5601
E-mail: via their website at www.lawworks.org.uk
Website: www.lawworks.org.uk.

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Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)

Acas can provide confidential and independent advice to help you sort out your employment dispute. You can get advice by calling their helpline or looking on their website.

Telephone: 0300 123 1100
Text Relay: 18001 0300 123 1100
Website: www.acas.org.uk.

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

If you have experienced discrimination, you can get help from the EASS discrimination helpline.

More about the EASS helpline

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Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at www.equalityhumanrights.com.

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Employment Tribunal Public Enquiry Line

The Employment Tribunal Public Enquiry Line can provide answers to queries, and explain how the employment tribunal system works. They don't give legal advice. More details are available on the Ministry of Justice website.

Telephone: 0845 795 9775
Minicom: 0845 757 3722
Website: www.justice.gov.uk

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Online information

Directgov

This is the government's information website. It gives information about your rights at work and how to resolve a problem at work.

Website: www.direct.gov.uk.

Employment Tribunal information

You can find more information about employment tribunals and how to make a claim to a tribunal from the Ministry of Justice website.

Website: www www.justice.gov.uk

Employment Tribunal Claims: tactics and precedents

This website provides information about the process of taking a claim to the employment tribunal, and useful informal advice on tactics and procedure.

Website: etclaims.co.uk.

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More about problems at work

To find out more about problems at work and employment tribunals, see Sorting out problems at work.

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Citizens Advice

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