A job can be much more than working 9-5. Employment can be an important part of your identity, an important source of pride and provide a sense of purpose in life. When disputes arise between an employer and an employee, it is therefore important to know the rules regarding raising claims and, more specifically, the time limits involved to ensure you will have your case heard.
When a dispute arises with your employer you can apply to the Employment Tribunal to have your case heard. It is important to note that employment claims are subject to strict time limits and that in order to pursue your claim it is important you seek advice from a solicitor or your trade union as soon as possible.
There are many reasons that you may wish to pursue a claim against your employer. These can include claims for unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, discrimination, harassment, breach of contract, unauthorised deductions from wages and claims related to a detriment after having made a protected disclosure.
Time limits can differ for various claims but in almost all cases you must apply within three months from the date of the event you complain of. This three-month time limit includes the date of the action or omission that you are complaining of. If you do not apply within this period, your claim will not be accepted by the Tribunal, and you will require to attend a Preliminary Hearing to explain why your claim was submitted late. There are strict rules in relation to the acceptance of a claim outwith the original time limit (further expanded upon below). It is also important to note that the 3-month limit is inclusive of all dates, and is not limited to working days. The limit is therefore inclusive of weekends.
ACAS Early Conciliation
If you intend to raise Employment Tribunal proceedings you must notify Acas. They will then offer the chance to use Early Conciliation to try and resolve the issue with your employer before Tribunal proceedings are raised. Acas are the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service and they provide impartial information and advice regarding employment law and workplace relations between employers and employees. One benefit of Early Conciliation is that this will stop the 3-month time limit running, and will provide an extended time period to resolve your dispute. It also allows you to enter negotiations with your employer.
Are there ways to extend the time limit?
While it is difficult to have your claim accepted by the Tribunal if it is submitted to the Employment Tribunal out with the time limit, you can ask the Employment Tribunal to consider your reasons as to why your claim was not submitted within the original deadline.
For cases of unfair dismissal and other employment right claims, an Employment Tribunal may extend time to accept a claim that was submitted late in circumstances where it is satisfied, that it was “not reasonably practicable” to submit the claim on time and that when the claim was actually submitted, it was nevertheless presented “within such further such period as the tribunal considers reasonable”. When doing so the Employment Tribunal will take into account matters such as any medical issues, whether legal advice had been given, the circumstances of the claim and the conduct of the employer.
In relation to discrimination claims, the Employment Tribunal has the discretion to extend the time limit for a claim to be raised if it considers it “just and equitable” to do so, and the Tribunal is entitled to take into account anything that it deems to be relevant.
It should be noted however, that it should not be presumed that the Employment Tribunal will exercise their discretion to admit claims that would normally be out of time. In order to convince the Employment Tribunal, you must have a serious and compelling reason as to why they should admit a claim out of time. Reasons that may convince the Employment Tribunal would be discovery of new evidence, a major change in the law or serious illness, to name a few.
At Jackson Boyd we have a dedicated team of employment solicitors who have extensive knowledge and experience of employment claims and the time limits that apply to different claims. Get in touch today and we can provide you with the bespoke legal you advice you require to make the best decision for you.