Early conciliation and time limits

I blogged here and here that from 6 May 2014, it is compulsory for claimants to contact ACAS and attempt “early conciliation” (EC) before they can issue a claim in the Employment Tribunal.

The time limit will stop running the day after the complainant files the EC form with ACAS. The clock starts again when the EC certificate issued by ACAS to signal that the conciliation process has ended (for whatever reason) is received by the complainant (section 207B(3)).

There is, however , an exception to this rule in that if the time limit falls during this period then the time limit will be extended by one month from the day after the EC certificate is issued (section 207B(4)).  It appeared, to all extents and purposes, that complainants could only use one or the other.

However, in Booth v Pasta King UK Ltd ET/1401231/14, an Employment Tribunal held that claimants should be given the longest possible extension to the time limit to bring a claim under section 207B of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

It was held that the deadline to present a claim should always be extended by the “stop the clock” provision in section 207B(3), which extends the time limit by the number of days it takes to complete the EC procedure.

The deadline can then be extended further by subsection 207B(4) if the time limit would have expired within one month of the date EC ended.

It was considered that the two subsections operated cumulatively, and not as alternatives. It would therefore be incorrect to only extend the original deadline under subsection 207B(4).

Rob

Deaf, hubby to Rachel, dad to Corey, Libby and Emily, Solicitor, Lecturer in Legal Practice at University of South Wales, PhD student at University of Leicester.

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