Even now that the number of Employment Tribunal claims have drastically reduced (see our article here) there are still situations where claims may be expected, and employers are then on a countdown, crossing off days on the calendar hoping that the claim does not arrive!
The usual time limit for most Employment Tribunal claims is 3 months less one day from the effective date of termination of employment (or, in discrimination claims, from the date of the discriminatory act). This time limit is strictly enforced in unfair dismissal claims, and although it is slightly less strict when it comes to claims of discrimination, the majority of claims are brought within this time.
Therefore it always used to be the case that employers would look at 3 months and then perhaps add on a week or two to allow time for the Tribunal administration to send the claim out. If it hadn’t arrived by then, you could nearly always feel you had the all clear.
However, the Tribunal administration has been significantly affected by the recent changes, in particular the introduction of fees and the fact that many Claimants are applying for remission. Remission applications can be lengthy and often a lot of supporting paperwork is required, which takes time to process. In addition, claims are now received centrally and then distributed to the local Tribunal offices for them to send the claims out to the relevant respondents. These two factors mean that according to our local Tribunals, claims are often taking several weeks and in some cases months to reach the local office, where they then need to be processed before being sent to the Respondent.
So we don’t want to be the bearers of bad news – but if this situation might apply to you, there may be a long wait before you know whether a claim has been brought against you. Some of the delays may be down to teething problems with the new system and may improve soon, but in the meantime we understand this is something the Tribunal system is urgently working on.
If you would like to talk through a situation you are dealing with, or if you need advice on any aspect of employment law, please contact any member of the Pure Employment Law team (01243 836840 or [email protected]).