ADR: Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Agency worker: Someone who has a contract with a recruitment or "temp" agency and who works temporarily for a hirer.

Band or range of reasonable responses: An Employment Tribunal will determine the reasonableness of an employer's decision to dismiss an employee based on a "band of reasonable responses" to assess whether the employer's decision was one which falls within the range of reasonable responses which a reasonable employer might adopt. 

Basic award: One of the three main types of compensation awarded in unfair dismissal claims. A basic award is calculated in the same way as statutory redundancy pay. It takes into account a claimant's age, number of years service and average weekly pay (subject to a statutory limit or cap.

Breach of contract: A breach of one or more of the main terms of employment.

Case management discussion: Under the old Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure, a discussion during a Preliminary Hearing to clarify the issues in an Employment Tribunal claim.

Casual worker: Someone who only works occasionally for a specific employer, and who does not have a right to be offered work or to accept work if it is offered.

Claimant: Someone who has presented a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

CML: Compulsory Maternity Leave.

Compensatory award: One of the three main types of compensation awarded in unfair dismissal claims. The amount is subject to a statutory limit. The award includes compensation for loss of earnings, future loss of earnings and loss of employment benefits.

Constructive unfair dismissal: A resignation by an employee where an employer has committed a serious breach of contract that entitles that employee to resign in response to the employer's conduct. The employee is entitled to treat him or herself as having been "dismissed", and the employer's conduct is often referred to as a "repudiatory breach." A constructive dismissal will be unfair if a Respondent cannot show a reason for the dismissal.

Contract of employment: A contract that sets out the terms and conditions of employment.

Contributory fault: An Employment Tribunal may reduce compensation for unfair dismissal if it is found that the Claimant's conduct caused or contributed to the dismissal. A reduction for contributory fault can be from 0% to 100%.

COP: Code of Practice.

COT3: An Acas form in which the terms of a settlement are agreed and signed by, or on behalf of the parties. A COT3 is legally binding once the terms have been accepted by the parties, even if there is nothing in writing.

CPI: Consumer Prices Index.

CVA: Company Voluntary Arrangement for insolvency.

Direct discrimination: This type of discrimination happens when a person is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic. There are nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, which are:

  • Age.

  • Disability.

  • Gender Reassignment.

  • Marriage and Civil Partnership.

  • Pregnancy and Maternity.

  • Race.

  • Religion or Belief.

  • Sex.

  • Sexual orientation.

Director: Someone who is involved in the running of a limited company on behalf of shareholders. Directors have different rights from employees and are classed as "office-holders." 

EC: Acas Early Conciliation is a process used to try and settle or resolve employment disputes which must be used before a claim can be presented to the Employment Tribunal.

EDT: The effective date of termination is the day that an employee's contract of employment ends. If an employee is dismissed with notice (or resigns and gives notice), the EDT will be the date on which the notice expires. If the employment has been terminated without notice (for example, if the employee has been dismissed for gross misconduct), the EDT will be the date on which the termination takes effect.

Employee: Someone who works under a contract of employment. Employees have more employment rights than other types of workers. For example, although a minimum period of service may be required, an employee has the right to statutory sick pay, statutory maternity, paternity, adoption pay and shared parental leave, a minimum period of notice, protection against unfair dismissal, the right to request flexible working, time off for emergencies, or statutory redundancy pay.

Employment judge: Someone who sits on the Employment Tribunal, who is a lawyer or barrister and who has five or seven years of post-qualification experience (the relevant legal qualifications for solicitors or barristers), and legal experience gained during that time.

Equal pay: The right of a man or a woman to receive the same amount of pay as someone of the opposite sex for doing the same or similar work for the same or similar employer.

ET: The Employment Tribunal.

ET1: The prescribed form that must be used to present a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

ET3: The prescribed form that must be used to respond to an Employment Tribunal claim.

ETO: Reason for an "Economic, Technical or Organisational" change under TUPE 2006.

EWC: Estimated Week of Childbirth, formerly Estimated Week of confinement.

Ex-gratia payment: A payment made where there is no obligation or liability to pay it.

Frustration of contract: A breach of contract that is brought about through no fault of the employee, for example, where an employee is on long-term sick leave and cannot work due to ill-health.

Garden Leave: A term used for a period during which an employee continues to receive wages and benefits, but is requested by the employer not to carry out any work.

Grievance: A concern raised by an employee with an employer about a problem or complaint at work.

Gross misconduct: An act of misconduct that is so serious as to justify summary dismissal without notice. Acts of gross misconduct are usually listed in the disciplinary procedure and can include theft, physical violence, or breaches of health and safety.

Harassment: A type of discrimination that occurs when a person is subjected to unwanted conduct that is related to a protected characteristic and the conduct has the effect of violating the person's dignity, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

Indirect discrimination: A type of discrimination that occurs where an employer applies a provision, criterion or practice that has the effect of disadvantaging people who share certain protected characteristics. Indirect discrimination may not be unlawful if an employer can justify the provision or practice and that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. There are nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, which are:

  • Age.

  • Disability.

  • Gender Reassignment.

  • Marriage and Civil Partnership.

  • Pregnancy and Maternity.

  • Race.

  • Religion or Belief.

  • Sex.

  • Sexual orientation.

JES: Job Evaluation Study.

KIT days: Keeping in Touch Days for employees on certain types of family leave, particularly maternity leave.

Lay or wing members: Individuals who sit with an Employment Judge during an Employment Tribunal hearing. There are two lay members in cases where they are required to sit. One member will have experience of workplace relations from a Claimant's point of view, and the other will have a similar experience from a Respondent's point of view.

LEL: Lower Earnings Limit for National Insurance contributions.

LLP: Limited Liability Partnership.

MA: Maternity Allowance.

Mitigation: Mitigation requires a Claimant to take steps to minimise financial losses. A Claimant must take adequate steps to mitigate the loss of employment by trying to find a new job. An Employment Tribunal may reduce an award for compensation if it considers that a Claimant has failed to make reasonable attempts to mitigate the loss.

NICs: National Insurance Contributions.

NMW: National Minimum Wage.

Notice period: A period of employment which will bring a job to an end. An employer must give an employee at least the statutory minimum period of notice based on the employee's length of service.

NVQ: National Vocational Qualification.

Office-holder: Someone who is neither an employee or worker and who has been appointed to a position by a company or organisation but does not receive regular payments or have a contract of employment. This may include; statutory appointments, such as a registered company director, secretary or board member or crown appointments. Appointments under the internal constitution of a club or organisation such as a treasurer or trade union secretary.

PAYE: Pay As You Earn method of taxation.

PEA: Pre-existing Arrangement for consulting employees.

PILON: Pay in lieu of notice. When an employee's contract of employment contains a PILON clause, an employer will have the right to pay that employee a lump sum rather than require the employee to work a period of contractual or statutory notice.

PLC: Public Limited Company.

POCA list: List of persons prohibited by the Protection of Children Act 1999 from working with children.

POVA list: List of persons prohibited from working with vulnerable adults.

Preliminary hearing: A hearing to decide case management and further procedure in a claim: or whether a claim or response should be struck out; determine questions of entitlement to bring a claim; or to decide whether a deposit needs to be paid.

Protected characteristic: The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against individuals on the grounds of a "protected characteristic." There are nine protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 which are as follows:

  • Age.

  • Disability.

  • Gender Reassignment.

  • Marriage and Civil Partnership.

  • Pregnancy and Maternity.

  • Race.

  • Religion or Belief.

  • Sex.

  • Sexual Orientation.

Redundancy: A dismissal mainly attributable to the fact that an employer ceases to carry on the business in which the employee was employed, or in the place where the employee was employed, or if the needs of the business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind cease or diminish, or the needs of the business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where the employee was employed cease or diminish.

Re-engagement: In unfair dismissal claims, a Respondent may be ordered by an Employment Tribunal to re-engage the Claimant with continuity of service. This means that the employee is to be re-employed on new terms and not re-employed in the old job from which the employee was dismissed.

Reinstatement: In unfair dismissal claims, a Respondent may be ordered by an Employment Tribunal to reinstate the Claimant with continuity of service. This means that the employee is to be re-employed on the same terms in the old job from which the employee was dismissed.

Respondent: The company or individual against which an Employment Tribunal claim has been presented.

Restrictive covenant: A contractual term (or terms) that is used by employers to protect business interests by restricting the activities of an employee following termination of employment. Such terms may prohibit an employee from competing with the former employer for a certain period after termination, or to prevent the employee from soliciting or dealing with customers of the employer.

Review hearing: A hearing to consider an application to have a decision, judgement, or decision reviewed.

RPI: Retail Price Index.

SAL: Statutory Adoption Leave.

SAP: Statutory Adoption Pay.

Self-employed: Someone who runs a business as a sole-trader and takes responsibility for its success or failure. Someone who is self-employed may have several customers, can decide where and when they work, can hire other people to work for them, or pay for the main items required to carry out the work.

Settlement agreement: A binding agreement or contract where an employee agrees not to pursue certain types of employment-related claims against an employer, normally in return for a payment of money. For a settlement agreement to be legally binding, it must be in writing, relate to a particular complaint or proceedings, and the employee must have received independent legal advice on the terms.

ShPL: Shared Parental Leave.

ShPP: Shared Parental Pay.

SI: Statutory Instrument.

SML: Statutory Maternity Leave.

SMP: Statutory Maternity Pay.

SOSR: Some Other Substantial Reason for a dismissal.

SPL: Statutory Paternity Leave.

SPP: Statutory Paternity Pay.

SSP: Statutory Sick Pay.

Statement of particulars: The minimum legal documentation which must be issued to all employees within two months of starting employment  The statement of particulars must include details such as the name of the employer and employee, the date when the employment began, and the date on which the employee's period of continuous employment began, the scale or rate of remuneration or the method of calculating remuneration, entitlement to holidays, including public holidays, and holiday pay etc. The statement of particulars should also specify any disciplinary rules applicable to the employee or referring to the employee.

Statutory employment rights: One of the three main types of compensation awarded in unfair dismissal claims. Some rights come into effect after a qualifying period of service such as the entitlement to a redundancy payment, or the right not to be unfairly dismissed. This award is for a nominal amount and is made to compensate a Claimant for the loss of those rights.

Summary dismissal: A dismissal without notice (or any payment in lieu of notice). A dismissal without notice will be deemed to be a wrongful dismissal (see below) unless it is in response to a repudiatory breach of contract by the employee (most commonly an act of gross misconduct.)

Unfair dismissal: A dismissal where an employer dismisses an employee for a reason other than one of the potentially fair reasons set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996. For example:

  • Conduct.

  • Capability.

  • Redundancy.

  • Breach of a Statutory Restriction.

  • Some other Substantial Reason.

Variation of contract: A change to one or more terms in a contract with the agreement of the parties.

Victimisation: A type of discrimination that occurs when a person is subjected to a detriment because that individual has performed a "protected act." Protected acts include making an allegation of unlawful discrimination or issuing a discrimination claim.

Whistle-blowing: The term used to describe a situation where a worker raises a concern about possible fraud, crime, danger or other serious risks. A worker who has made a "protected disclosure" is protected from being dismissed or subjected to a detriment because of that disclosure.

Without prejudice: A means of preventing communication between parties (whether written or verbal) that are made with the genuine aim of settling a dispute, from being admissible as evidence in a Court or Employment Tribunal. Simply including the words "without prejudice" will not mean that the communication has not been made in a genuine attempt to settle an existing dispute.

Worker: Someone who may have a contract or another arrangement to carry out work for payment personally. Workers do not have the same amount of employment rights as employees do, although they are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, protection from unlawful deductions of pay, the statutory minimum level of paid holiday and rest breaks and not to be required to work more than 48 hours per week (or opt-out if they chose) protection against unlawful discrimination, whistle-blowing and not to be treated less favourably if they work part-time. A worker may also be entitled to statutory sick pay, statutory maternity pay, statutory paternity pay, statutory adoption pay and shared parental leave.

Written reasons for dismissal: Employers are required to provide an employee who has two or more years service a written statement of the reasons for that employee's dismissal. A failure to do so could result in an award of two weeks pay at the Employment Tribunal.

Wrongful dismissal: A dismissal which is in breach of the employee's contract of employment. If an employee is wrongfully dismissed, the employee may claim damages for all financial and other benefits that would have been received if the dismissal had complied with the contract.

Zero-hours contract: A contract under which an employer is not obliged to provide a worker with any minimum working hours and the worker is only paid for work carried out.

Abbreviations and common terms

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