There are very strict, short time limits for making an employment tribunal claim. In most cases, the aggrieved individual has three months less one day from the actual date of dismissal to submit the claim.
In addition, the aggrieved employee must submit a request to Acas for early conciliation, before making the claim. This is an important aspect of submitting an employment tribunal claim as the usual time limit is paused and extended during the conciliation process.
Overall, you need to make the claim within the legally stipulated time limits, otherwise, the tribunal would not accept it.
Having said that, sometimes, the specific time limit expires before you can submit your claim. So, is it possible at all to submit the claim out of time? Let’s find out.
Dismissal and Appeals
In case an employee is dismissed, and they appeal against the wrongful dismissal, the mere fact that the individual has made an appeal doesn’t actually change the date of the dismissal. Neither, postponing the dismissal nor extending the time for making a claim does that.
That said, if the aforementioned employee has been dismissed pending the appeal, usually they are not quite sure about the dismissal date. To such individuals and all others, it is important that they consider their last working day with the employer as the date of the dismissal, unless specified otherwise.
Notice and the Date Of Dismissal
Generally, if your employer threatens to dismiss you from work with notice pay or just notice, but doesn’t actually want you to work out the notice, you need to clarify from your employer about whether:
- you are being dismissed with an immediate notice pay, or
- you are still employed until the completion of the notice period, but your employer tells you to stay at home during the aforementioned period.
In case, you are still not sure, you must ask your employer to provide the actual date on which your employment is actually getting terminated.
Furthermore, if the employer doesn’t confirm a date, you can take your date of dismissal to be the last date on which you actually did work.
In addition, you can make an unfair dismissal claim even if you have received a notice of dismissal (you have not been dismissed yet.) Reputable employment law solicitors always advise that it is always beneficial to submit an early claim than lose the chance because it got too late.
How Does the Time Limit Apply To Your Case
Often, it can be difficult for an employee to figure out the exact date and time when the discrimination happened. While it may be only one incident (denied promotion, pay reduction), sometimes, the discrimination could be a behaviour that extends over time.
According to the employment law guidelines, if an employer has made a discriminatory decision, the time limit to make a claim would start from the date when the decision was made instead of the date when you were notified about it.
Discrimination Taking Place Over A Period Of Time
In case, the discrimination is not made through one particular action but spans over a period of time, the time limit for the claim starts at the end of that period (here, the discrimination is considered as continuing.)
The employment tribunal would decide whether or not the discrimination is continuing, and if you have had made the claim within the legally stipulated time frame. Subsequently, the tribunal will review whether –
- the acts of discrimination that you experienced are somehow linked or connected to one another;
- there is conclusive evidence of a continuing state of affairs or an ongoing situation of discrimination at your workplace;
- there is a continuing relationship between you and your employer (if your employment is still ongoing).
If the incidents are unconnected or isolated, the discrimination is not considered as ‘continuing’ and the time limit varies for each separate incident.
Discrimination Where There Are Ongoing Consequences
There are instances, wherein, you could experience a one-off act of discrimination at your workplace, which has ongoing consequences.
In such a case, the time limit of submitting the claim starts from the incident instead of the continuing consequences.
For example, consider a situation in which your employer reviews your job role and decides to reduce the pay. Therefore, the time limit starts from the time when the decision to reduce the payment was made.
Furthermore, this decision has ongoing effects because you continue to be paid less, while the decision to review your job role is considered as a one-off act.
If The Employer Fails To Make Reasonable Adjustments
Often, discrimination at workplace happens because the employer fails to do something they should have done earlier (for example, make reasonable adjustments.) In all such cases, the time limit starts when the employer makes the decision of not doing anything, either immediately or after a significant period.
Either way, you may be able to make a claim back in time by making a new request, asking your employer to do something.
What Happens if the Claim is not Made Within The Time Limit?
Although the time limits for making an employment tribunal claim are quite strictly enforced, the tribunal does have the discretion to extend the time limit, in cases, it seems suitable.
This implies that the tribunal may accept an out-of-time claim only if it believes that it will be a fair decision. To help make the decision, the employment tribunal considers the following points:
- the reasons and duration of the delay;
- the effect of the delay on the evidence;
- the steps the aggrieved party took to get advice once they knew of the possibility of taking action.