Employment Tribunal Time Limits

Caragh Bailey
7 min read
Employment Tribunal Time Limit from Employment Law Friend

Is there a time limit on employment tribunal?

Normally there is a time limit on making a claim to the employment tribunal of 3 months minus one day. This is called the limitation period, it begins on the day you are fired (if you do not continue to work a notice period, or the end of your notice period if you do); or, on the day of the last incident which breached your employment rights. You submit you claim by filling in an ET1 form.

For example: If you were wrongfully dismissed on the 10th of January, the employment tribunal must receive your correctly filled ET1 form no later than the 9th of February. It is best to submit your ET1 as early as possible, so that you have time to amend it if there are any problems with it. The date on which the claim has to be presented does not change because the date on which the time limit expires or the date following it is not a working day.

It is crucial that you make your claim within your limitation date, as extensions are only obtainable under very specific circumstances, on a case by case basis.

If you miss your deadline, you may be able to bring your claim to the civil court instead, which has a time limit of 6 years. However, this isn't always possible and it can become very expensive.

When is the employment tribunal time limit different?

The main exceptions to to the three month limitation date are:
  • Equal Pay Claims now called 'equality of terms claims' - 6 months
  • Statutory Redundancy Payment Claims - 6 months

Some less common exceptions to to the three month limitation date are:
  • Exclusion or expulsion from trade union - 6 months. You must wait 4 weeks before making a claim
  • Failure to offer re-engagement where dismissal connected with lockout, strike or other industrial action - 6 months beginning on your effective date of dismissal
  • Payments equivalent to redundancy payments to civil servants etc - no time limit specified

When do the employment tribunal time limits start?

The time limit begins on the day of the 'relevant event'.

For example:
  • You have been dismissed for whistleblowing (which is automatically unfair) - Your employment tribunal time limit begins on the day you are dismissed
  • You have been harassed at work over a period of several weeks or months - Your employment tribunal time limit begins on the day of the last incident of unlawful harassment
  • You interview for a job which you do not get because the interviewer has unlawfully discriminated against you - Your employment Tribunal Time Limit begins when the employer or interviewer makes the decision not to hire you.

The time limit begins from the date that 'detriment' (such as the discriminatory decision not to hire the employee in the example above) occurs, even if you do not know it has happened. However, employment tribunals can extend this to begin on the date you find out (the day that you're informed that your application was not successful), because 'it is just and equitable to do so where an employee was unaware of the act'.

Equal Pay
Equal Pay is protected by The Equality Act 2010. The time limit does not begin if you are under 18, or if you lack capacity under the The Mental Capacity Act 2005; Or, If your employer deliberately concealed any essential facts from you, such as concealing the salary of other employees, or unlawfully pressuring their workforce not to discuss their pay.

Your employment tribunal time limit begins on the effective date of termination. This means, If you are dismissed without notice, or with pay in lieu of notice, it begins on the day you are dismissed. If you work a notice period, it begins when the notice period ends. You can still submit a claim before your notice period has finished

If you are bringing a claim of constructive dismissal, your employment tribunal time limit begins on the day your employer receives the letter or fax communicating your resignation, not the day that they read it.

Unlawful Deductions of Wages
Your employment tribunal time limit begins from the last date where your employer could legally have paid you.
Series of deductions: If you have been underpaid more than once, your time limit begins from the last incident. For example, if your monthly pay has been subject to unlawful deductions for several months, your time limit to claim for all of those deductions begins on the date of the most recent payday which was unlawfully deducted from.

Holiday pay & other leave pay
If you have been refused statutory or contractual leave or rest your employment tribunal time limit begins on the day that you should have been leave or rest under the The Working Time Regulations 1998. This includes statutory rest breaks within a working day or a working week.

If you have been refused pay for your statutory or contractual leave, your employment tribunal time limit begins on the day you should have received payment. However, if you have been unpaid for leave on multiple occasions, you can only make a claim to the employment tribunal for those occasions that should have been paid within in the last 3 months. the series of deductions rule does not apply.

Breach of contract
Your employment tribunal time limit begins on the effective date of termination.

Will they allow me extra time for early conciliation?
Early conciliation pauses your time limit for one month while you negotiate to settle your case without going to tribunal. If at the end of that month you have been unable to resolve your case, your time limit recommences. Unless you have less that one month remaining on your time limit, in which case your new deadline is one month from the conclusion of your early conciliation.

Employment Tribunal Time Limit Calculator: Coming soon

We're busy building you an easy calculator to find out your personal deadline for getting your ET1 form submitted, including any extension by early conciliation.

Frequently Asked Questions
Usually, to have an claim, you must have been in your job for two years or more. But, certain things, like whistleblowing, are protected from unfair dismissal under two years .

The rule is, you need 23 months and 3 weeks of continuous employment with the same employer before you can claim unfair or constructive dismissal, unless one of the few exceptions applies. Automatically unfair dismissal is one of them.
If you are given notice of dismissal within 23 months and 3 weeks of your employment, you will not be able to claim for unfair dismissal unless it is automatically unfair. If you are given notice of dismissal after 23 months and 3 weeks of your employment, you will be protected from unfair dismissal, whether 'automatically unfair' or not.

You can claim for unfair dismissal before two years of continuous employment, if you have a case of automatically unfair dismissal.
Your certificate is valid for you to go to tribunal up to one month after the date that the certificate is issued. If you have more than one month left to your original limitation date, you keep the original limitation date and your certificate is valid until then.
Talks take place over the phone for up to one month. If, at the end of that month, you are close to an agreement, talks can be extended by two weeks.

Are you bringing a claim to Tribunal?
There is much more to winning your case than simply being in the right, our specialist employment solicitors know all the laws and tactics, to make sure you get the best chance at a fair settlement. Get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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This content is provided free of charge for information purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. No responsibility for the accuracy and/or correctness of the information and commentary set out in the article, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed or accepted by any member of our company. For employment law advice please get in contact and speak to your employment law solicitors.
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