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What's New? > Employment Tribunal Claims and the cost of missing deadlines

Employment Tribunal Claims and the cost of missing deadlines

Published: 3rd September 2010

With a rise in the number of Employment Tribunal claims being presented over the past 12 to 18 months by employees, a number of which have arisen as a result of the recession, it is important for Employees to note the strict deadlines which apply in respect of presenting their claim to the Employment Tribunal.

Time Limit for presenting a claim

Missing a deadline by even a matter of minutes could end up costing you dearly.

The time limit for presenting a claim in the Employment Tribunal is 3 months less 1 day from the date of dismissal or the date on which the cause of action arose in claims such as those for discrimination.  Determining the date of limitation in discrimination cases and even constructive dismissal cases can be more complicated and Employees should seek advice at the earliest possible opportunity.

ACAS Code of Practice

There is no longer any provision in the law for these time limits to be extended and the position was changed when the new ACAS Code of Practice was introduced in April 2009, which abolished the old ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.

There was a period between April 2009 and October 2009 where there was a cross-over between the old and new procedures, however the new ACAS Code of Practice is now firmly in place.

When should you take legal advice?

Employees are advised to take legal advice as a matter of urgency once they have been dismissed and have lodged their appeal against the dismissal, or in other cases, as soon as they believe there has been an issue of discrimination or other serious complaint relating to their employment.

Do I have to wait for my grievance or appeal to be heard before I can issue a claim?

Whilst generally an Employee's appeal or grievance should be dealt with before presenting a claim to the Employment Tribunal, the Tribunal will appreciate the Employee's position if a claim has to be submitted before these issues are dealt with, where there has been delay on the part of the Employer and limitation is approaching.

Some might say that the time limits that apply to presenting an Employment Tribunal claim are insufficient, however, whatever your views on the state of the legal system, there is no getting away from the fact that all legislation must be complied with. 

The effects of the very strict time limits can also favour an Employee in some instances.  This was illustrated recently following the claim of Marley v Brentegani's Bistro Limited where the Employer wanted to appeal against the Employment Tribunal's decision in which it was ordered to pay 14,777 in compensation to a former employee for unfair dismissal and disability discrimination. 

The Employer had attempted to lodge its notice of appeal with the Employment Appeal Tribunal in person.  The office was closed and therefore the notice was not lodged within the six week deadline.

In this case Lord Justice Mummery ruled that the Employer's appeal should not be allowed on the basis that the six week time limit was generous enough and there was no discretion to extend the time limit, although it was also commented upon that the appeal had no reasonable prospect of succeeding.

The case above illustrates how the Tribunals will deal with claims which are presented late, which in the majority of cases will be that they are disallowed.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

 Employees must issue a claim within 3 months less one day of the date on which their cause of action arose.  Claims will be accepted by the Tribunal until midnight on the day of limitation.

 An appeal against an Employment Tribunal decision must be submitted within 6 weeks (42 days) of the date of the decision being sent to the parties.

 An appeal must be received by the Employment Appeal Tribunal by 4.00 p.m. on the day of the deadline and any appeals lodged outside of the time will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.

 The time limits are strict and even a few minutes after the deadline is usually too late.

If you have been dismissed or have left your employment please contact Anissa Hallworth for a free initial consultation on 01553 660033.

This article aims to supply general information, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek our specific advice.