Employees may have longer to bring tribunal claims

Employees may have longer to bring tribunal claims

The Law Commission is considering extending the time limit allowed for tribunal claims to be submitted.

Claims for unfair dismissal must currently be brought within three months, however this can be amended if a judge decides it is 'not reasonably practicable' for the ex-employee to meet that deadline.

The time limit is also three months for discrimination claims, but judges must decide whether it is ‘just and equitable’ to extend the time limit. Claims for redundancy pay and equal pay already have the longer time limit of six months.

The Reforming Employment Law Hearing Structures consultation paper asked if the varying time limits should be rationalised into a more consistent and “slightly more generous” time limit of six months, or whether the power to extend the limit should be at a tribunal’s discretion.

The paper stated that the consultation “gives an opportunity to take stock of how employment tribunals have evolved, of the various time limits of three to six months depending on the nature of the claim, and of the different tests for extending time to bring a claim.”

It added the short primary time limit and strict test for extending it derived from the original concept of tribunal as a forum for the “speedy” and “informal” resolution of employment disputes. While stating this was still true to an extent, the commission suggested more sophisticated guidelines were now needed to address “far more complex” cases “of much higher value”.

A blanket six month limit on all cases may provide certainty and consistency however longer time limits may leave employers uncertain whether an individual is bringing a tribunal claim against their business or not.

It is perhaps surprising that the commission are considering an extension to time limits when there is a significant increase in the claims being brought against employers as demonstrated by the recent provisional employment tribunal statistics published by the Ministry of Justice.

Facing a claim shouldn’t mean your company or reputation has to suffer. Our approach to handling employment tribunals alleviates the pressure for employers, allowing you to hand over the management of the process so you can focus on your most important asset; your business.

We are able to assist you from the first approach to ACAS, to preparing for a final hearing.