As the recent Employment Appeal Tribunal decision of Croker v Surrey County Council  UKEAT 0358/11/JOJ makes explicitly clear, employees often fall into difficulties when it comes to the calculation of their Employment Tribunal “limitation date” if they have an ongoing grievance with their employer. When the limitation date falls depends, to a great extent, upon the points of law that the employee is seeking to rely upon so the limitation dates may be different in a case relating to protected disclosure, discrimination or constructive dismissal. In this post we’ll take a look at limitation dates in Employment Tribunal claims and how employees can best calculate when their limitation date is (particularly when the issues relate to undealt-with grievances). We’ll do so by examining the following issues:
- What is a “limitation date”?
- How do I calculate the limitation date for my Employment Tribunal case?
- What is the limitation date if I want to complain to the Employment Tribunal about my grievance?
- Grievances and limitation dates – conclusion
What is a “limitation date”?
In most causes of action in the Employment Tribunal (such as, for example, an unfair dismissal claim) the person seeking to submit the claim must do so within a defined (and quite short) period of time. In unfair dismissal, discrimination, harassment and constructive dismissal cases this is three months less one day from the date that the most recent relevant incident occurred on. In a constructive dismissal claim this would be three months less one day from the date that you resigned. In a discrimination claim it would be three months less one day from the last date of discrimination.
Free template: Example grievance letter template
How do I calculate the limitation date for my Employment Tribunal case?
First of all, you need to determine what the “relevant date” that you’re seeking to complain about is. In unfair dismissal cases this would be the date on which you were dismissed. In discrimination cases this would be the date of the most recent alleged discriminatory act. Once you’ve determined what the relevant date is you need to work forward three months less one day to determine what the limitation date is. So, let’s take a look at a relatively simple example of limitation dates in an unfair dismissal claim:
Ben is dismissed without notice on 2 February 2012. He had three months less one day to submit a claim. His limitation date is therefore 1 May 2012.
If Ben was to submit his unfair dismissal claim to the Employment Tribunal after 1 May 2012 then he would have a very difficult job persuading the Employment Tribunal to accept his claim.
What is the limitation date if I want to complain to the Employment Tribunal about my grievance?
This is a very tricky issue and depends – to a great extent – upon which cause of action you’re relying. If (for example) you’re alleging that the failure to deal with your grievance was discriminatory then where does the limitation date lie? When you submitted your grievance? Or on the date on which you realised that your grievance wasn’t being dealt with? Or on the date, months later, on which you received an unsatisfactory outcome to your grievance? It’s not hard to see how this could cause potential Employment Tribunal Claimants problems. The best thing to do is to think carefully about when you think the last date of discrimination (in this example) occurred and to work forwards from there. The problem with this approach is that employees often don’t know that they only have three months to complain to the Employment Tribunal.
Read more: How to write a grievance letter
Grievances and limitation dates – conclusion
In cases of protected disclosure and discrimination (including harassment and victimisation) limitation dates can sometimes be difficult to calculate. It’s recommended that if employees think they may have a claim that they obtain a free consultation for employment law advice so that their options can be explained to them fully.
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