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HMRC internal manual

Information Disclosure Guide

Sharing information outside of HMRC: sharing information with courts, tribunals and HMRC appeals: employment tribunals

The role of employment tribunals

Employment tribunals hear claims from individuals relating to a variety of employment law matters including unfair dismissal, disputes over redundancy and other salary related earnings as well as the various aspect of discrimination. Their powers are similar to those given to the County courts.

Procedure to follow

Information can either be provided to an employment tribunal with the consent of the relevant person, in most cases this will be the aggrieved employee or former employee, or where ordered by the employment judge.

Most of the requests received by HMRC will be from employees or former employees. And in general they or their representatives will ask for details held in respect of their pay (including statutory payments), tax and National Insurance.

Provided that you have received a written request for information from the customer it is possible to provide him or his representative with any information held about his personal affairs. See IDG30210 for further details.

So that HMRC’s information can be admitted into the tribunal as evidence you may be asked to provide the requested details on a witness statement. If you receive such a request you should follow the guidance on making witness statements at IDG40220 

Disclosure by Court order

Employment Tribunals are presided over by an employment judge whose statutory powers are the equivalent of any other judge sitting in a county court. They have a wide range of powers to order any ‘person’ (including HMRC) to attend the court as witnesses or require that certain, specified records or information be disclosed.

HMRC will seek wherever possible to provide documents or information rather than attend court and even if a witness summons is served (see IDG40540) it may still be possible to ask the tribunal to accept written evidence alone.

Other types of request

It is possible that you will receive a request from a person claiming to represent a particular individual or an informal request from a member of staff or the employment tribunal services. In either case information must not be disclosed and instead you should ask that they provide a letter of authorisation from our customer.

Relevant Legislation

The Employment Tribunals Rules of Procedure are set out in the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2004 (SI 2004/1861) and the Employment Tribunals owe their existence to the Employment Rights Act 1996.

In Northern Ireland matters are regulated by the Industrial Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2005 (Statutory Rule 2005/150).

Devolved Assemblies

This Guidance applies to the whole of the United Kingdom, however the administration of Employment Tribunals in England, Scotland and Wales is governed by an agency of the Ministry of Justice and in Northern Ireland the role is carried out by the Office of the Industrial Tribunals and the Fair Employment Tribunal by staff from the Department for Employment and Learning.