The strict time limits for employment claims
Our specialist Employment Law team are all too aware of the strict time limits for employment claims.
Although civil claims generally have a limitation period of six years to issue a claim, employment claims follow a different rulebook. In most cases, the time limit for you to bring an employment claim to the employment tribunal is three months, minus one day, from the date the issue arose.
In this blog, we explore employment claim time limits and how the claim process affects these deadlines.
Time limits for employment claims
The time limit for employment claims usually begins from the date the issue occurred and must be presented to the tribunal within three months. This means that you have three months, minus one day, to bring your employment claim to the tribunal.
For example, if you received an unfair dismissal on 1st May with no notice period, the time limit to bring your employment claim starts on 1st May and ends at 11:59 pm on 31st July.
The date the issue occurred in most cases is the ‘effective date of termination’, also referred to as the ‘EDT’. This is the date that the employee’s notice expires, or the date that employment terminates, in cases where notice isn’t given.
It is important you are certain of the effective date of termination if you intend to bring a claim, so you are aware of the limitation period. If you are unsure when your employment claim time limit is, you should contact a specialist Employment Law Solicitor as soon as possible.
Here are some common employment claim time limits you should be aware of:
Three months, minus one day, from the date of resignation. To claim constructive dismissal, the resignation must immediately follow the ‘trigger event’, such as an act, event or circumstance that caused you to want to leave the company.
Three months, minus one day, starting from the date of the discriminatory act.
Six months, minus one day, starting from the date of termination, or the date the employee discovered the pay inequality. For employees in the armed forces, the time limit is 9 months.
Six months, minus one day, starting from either the date the notice expired, if the employee was dismissed on notice, or the date the employee resigned or was dismissed without notice.
Unfair dismissal and/or dismissal from whistleblowing
Three months, minus one day, starting from the effective date of termination. To bring unfair dismissal, you must have at least two years of service with your employer unless you are a victim of discrimination and/or have been automatically unfairly dismissed.
Unlawful deduction from wages
Three months, minus one day, starting from the date of the last unlawful deduction.
Three months, minus one day, starting from the date of the action or failure to act to the complaint.
Three months, minus one day, starting from the effective date of termination. As wrongful dismissal relates to a breach of contract, you do have the option to bring the claim as an employee in the civil courts.
The civil courts have a limitation period of six years from the date of the breach of contract. The civil courts also have the power to award compensation payments above £25,000, whereas the tribunal is subject to a compensation cap of £25,000 for breach of contract claims.
Are there any exceptions to employment claim time limits?
Although the employment claim time limits are strict, a late claim will be subject to the tribunal’s discretion on whether to allow the claim to be presented, which will depend on the circumstances of your case.
The employment tribunal can extend the time limit in cases where it is deemed not ‘reasonably practical’ for you to present the complaint in time.
We understand that there are many reasons that the employment claim time limit might be a challenge. It could be that you are not ready to present the claim, or that you were unaware of the time limit. Unfortunately, these reasons are not usually accepted as an exception to the rule.
If for some reason you don’t make the deadline, we recommend that you bring your employment claim as soon as possible and can present the tribunal with evidence as to why the deadline was missed.
As the employment tribunal considers each case individually with discretion to decide who would suffer the most injustice if a late claim is allowed, it’s difficult for us to give you precise guidelines on whether your case will succeed.
The impact of Acas early conciliation
If you want to make an employment tribunal claim, you must complete a form to notify Acas that you intend to bring a workplace dispute claim. Once Acas are aware, your matter will be passed on to the early conciliation support team, who will make contact with you. Your employment claim time limit will ‘freeze’ whilst this process is ongoing.
The next step is early conciliation, which takes place before the tribunal hearing and involves an Acas representative contacting both parties to try and reach a settlement. This is a free service and can take up to six weeks, but it is not required of either party to take part. If the parties do not participate, or if a settlement is not reached, Acas will issue an early conciliation certificate so you can proceed with your claim.
Your claim’s time limit will be suspended and you will have a minimum of 1 calendar month from the date of receipt of the certificate to make a claim to the employment tribunal. In some cases, you may have longer than 1 month to make a claim to the tribunal. Working out the exact time limit can be complicated so it is sensible to seek legal advice to avoid missing the strict deadlines.
Need advice about employment law?
The time limits for employment claims are incredibly strict, and it can be easy for the time to pass by. This is why it’s so important for both employees and employers to act fast if they intend to bring an employment claim to the tribunal, by notifying Acas and seeking specialist employment law advice.