Employment Tribunal Time Limits
There are strict time limits within which the process of bringing a claim before the Employment Tribunal must be commenced. For most claims, this is three months less one day from the date of the incident or event which is the basis of the claim. Obviously it is always best to start the Employment Tribunal process in time to avoid any dispute about time limits. However, if that has not been possible, the Employment Tribunal does sometimes have discretion to extend the time limit.
We hope the information on our website is helpful, but nothing is better than discussing your situation with a fully qualified employment law solicitor. If you would like a no obligation, free consultation, please use the contact form, engage in a web chat, email email@example.com or call us on 01522 440512
How Does The Employment Tribunal Process Start?
Claimants begin the Employment Tribunal litigation process by way of ACAS Early Conciliation. As above, this must commence within three months less one day from the incident or event your claim is about. By way of example, if the incident or event occurred on 31 January 2022, you would have until 30 April 2022 to start the ACAS Early Conciliation process.
ACAS Early Conciliation is a formal process which all potential applicants to the Employment Tribunal must go through. Essentially, you will register your claim online with ACAS. They will appoint a Conciliator to act as a go-between for you and your employer to see if your case can be settled. If it can, the deal or settlement will be negotiated and recorded through your ACAS Conciliator. More information can be found on our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/blog/acas-early-conciliation-what-is-it-all-about/
If the matter cannot be settled, you will be issued with an ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate. You must quote your certificate number on any Employment Tribunal claim you submit. The date by which you must submit your Employment Tribunal claim depends largely upon the time taken for ACAS Early Conciliation. However, you will have at least one month from the date of your ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate to lodge your claim with the Employment Tribunal.
What If You Start ACAS Early Conciliation Or Submit Your Employment Tribunal Claim Too Late?
If the ACAS Early Conciliation process or Employment Tribunal claim is started too late, this will, on the face of it, mean that the Employment Tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear your claim. Accordingly, your claim may well be rejected. However, there are two main types of discretion under which the tribunal may extend the time limit so as to accept the claim late. There is no presumption in favour of extending time though and the exercise of discretion to extend time will be the exception and not the rule. Again, the best option is to submit your claim in time if at all possible.
Not reasonably practicable
This test applies to unfair dismissal and most other employment rights claims such as unlawful detriment or deductions from wages. An Employment Tribunal may extend time for presenting a claim where it is satisfied that:
- It was ‘not reasonably practicable’ for your complaint to be presented in time;
- Your claim was nevertheless presented ‘within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable’.
Note that a tribunal will only consider this test after a claim has been submitted. You cannot apply for an extension of time in advance.
Factors that can be taken into account will vary from case to case but the following may be considered:
- The manner of, and reason for, dismissal;
- Whether you went through your employer’s grievance process;
- The main cause of your failure to comply with the time limit;
- Whether you were suffering from any illness;
- Whether and when you knew of your rights;
- Whether you had been advised by anyone and the nature of the advice you received;
- Whether there was significant fault by you or your adviser which resulted in the failure to present your claim in time.
There are no fixed rules as to when an extension of time will be granted and it is essentially a matter of fact for the Employment Tribunal to decide in the particular circumstances of your case.
If an Employment Tribunal is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for you to present your claim in time, it must then go on to consider whether your claim was presented ‘within such further period as the tribunal considers reasonable’, i.e. within a reasonable time after the original time limit expired.
Just and equitable
This test applies to discrimination claims. An Employment Tribunal may extend time for presenting a discrimination claim by such further period as it considers ‘just and equitable’. Essentially, it is entitled to take into account anything that it deems to be relevant. It will consider the prejudice that you or the other party(ies) will suffer if an extension is granted and whether the delay has affected the ability of the tribunal to conduct a fair hearing. It is likely to consider factors such as:
- The length of and reasons for the delay;
- The promptness with which you acted once you knew of the possibility of taking action;
- The steps you took to obtain appropriate professional advice once you knew of the possibility of taking action.
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Can Help You
If you need help with time limits for your Employment Tribunal claim, please contact us using the contact form, engage in a web chat, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01522 440512 for a free consultation with an employment solicitor. If you would like more information about Employment Tribunal claims generally, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/employment-tribunal-claims/
Specialist Employment Law Solicitor
Lincs Law Employment Solicitors