As a fellow Chamber member, welcome to the latest issue of Sentient Information Update.
Sentient Update is a free email newsletter which provides a brief overview of topical employment and health and safety issues on a regular basis.
Tribunal Proceedings – The Time Limits
When employees or ex employees seek to raise an Employment Tribunal claim against their employer or former employer, there is a strict timescale when the claim must be made. Generally it is three months from the dismissal/incident date. There are extensions available in limited circumstances, notably where the 3 step statutory Disciplinary and Grievance procedures are involved.
Applying this time limit the Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently upheld a decision not to accept an unfair dismissal claim which was presented 88 seconds late.
The ex-employee tried to present his claim electronically about 15 minutes before midnight on the last day for presentation. However, he mistyped the web address. He then sent a test message about 3 minutes before midnight, and sent his actual Claim Form 1 min 28 seconds after midnight.
The Claim was therefore registered late, and consequently the Employment Tribunal kicked it out. The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed with the Tribunal.
Point to Note
Employers should expect similar treatment to their submissions. If an employer receives notification from the Tribunal of a claim against them, they have 28 days to submit a defence/response. If the employer does not submit a defence, they could be barred from participating in the proceedings and the Tribunal could give the Claimant Judgment by default. This EAT decision is a useful reminder that time scales must be met.
Whilst an employer can ask for a late defence to be accepted, this is unlikely to be accepted (unless there are very exceptional circumstances).
Therefore, if you receive Tribunal papers - do not “bury your head in the sand” and ignore them in the hope that the claim will go away – it won’t! Act promptly, seek professional advice, and ensure the defence/response is submitted within the 28 day timescale. Failure to do so, could be very costly!
If you have any queries regarding Employment Tribunal defence do give us a call on 08456 446006