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Time Limits for Employment Tribunal claims

Tribunal fees

Tribunal fees were introduced on 29 July 2013.   However, on 26 July 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that fees were unlawful and you no longer have to pay a fee to bring a claim.

Early Conciliation

Almost all Employment Tribunal claims are required to comply with new rules on pre claim conciliation by ACAS, called Early Conciliation.  It is very important to understand that Early Conciliation makes some changes to the normal time limit rules set out below.

Time limits

It is essential that the tribunal claim form (known as an ET1) arrives at the tribunal office on or before the time limit for that claim.

Different claims have different rules about time-limits. Discrimination claims are particularly complicated. The following is only a brief summary. For more detailed information seek advice from an employment adviser or look at other sources of help.

For all claims at the employment tribunal, the time-limit is 3 months less 1 day from the act of discrimination, for example:

  • Dismissal due to pregnancy on 3 October 2017. Last day for presenting Claim – 2 January 2018.
  • Decision not to promote Claimant because she is pregnant. Decision made 8 September 2017. Last day for presenting Claim – 7 December 2017.

The time limit usually runs from when a decision not to promote or appoint is made, and not from when the decision is communicated to the worker.

If the Claimant wants to complain about several separate discriminatory actions within the same Claim, she must count the time from each action. So time will run from the date of the earliest event.

For example, if the employer decided on 8 September 2017 not to promote the Claimant due to her pregnancy and on 3 October 2017, dismissed her because of her pregnancy, the time-limit for keeping both Claims in time is 7 December 2017.

The Claimant can refer to earlier incidents which are out of time as supporting evidence.

In some situations, the discrimination amounts to a continuing action, in which case, time continues to run until the discriminatory action stops or the Claimant leaves the employment.

The tribunal has limited discretion to allow in late Claims (those outside the time-limit). The test for this is different depending on whether the claim is about discrimination or something else. If you are worried that you are out of time to make a claim act quickly and seek specialist advice.

It will take into account various factors including the reasons the Claim is late, how late it is, whether the employer is prejudiced by the lateness, and whether it looks like a good Claim. A Claim may be accepted outside the time limit if facts have come to light after the time limit has expired which the Claimant knew nothing about. For example, a woman made ‘redundant’ while on maternity leave discovers some months after her dismissal that her post was not really redundant at all and has been filled by someone else. In such a case, the tribunal must consider whether or not it was reasonable for the Claimant to realise she had a claim before the new facts came to light.

Even if a worker and employer are going thought an internal grievance or disciplinary procedure, this does not extend the time limit by which the Claim must be made to a tribunal. Workers should be wary of long-drawn-out procedures by employers in an attempt to take the worker outside the time limit for making a Claim.

It is hard to get the tribunal to allow in late Claims. Never let a deadline pass relying on this.

Time limits can be tricky and it is often a good idea to get specialist advice.

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