Tick tock – an employer’s waiting game as claimants may get six months to bring employment tribunal claims

Back in the autumn of 2018, the Law Commission published a consultation document that focused on the jurisdiction of employment tribunals and civil courts. Users of the judicial system acknowledged that there were issues.

Having received input into the consultation from various parties, the Law Commission published its report on employment law hearing structures at the end of April 2020. The report sets out 23 recommendations. We have identified those we consider the key ones below.

  • There should be a single time limit of six months for claimants to bring employment tribunal claims. This would address the access to justice point.
  • The test for extending time limits should be “just and equitable” in all cases (not whether it was “reasonably practicable”). “Just and equitable” focuses on the reasons why a claimant may not present a claim in time.
  • Employment Tribunals should have jurisdiction to hear breach of contract claims, and related counterclaims, brought during employment.
  • Employment Tribunals should have jurisdiction to hear breach of contract claims resulting from alleged liability arising after employment has ended.
  • There should be an increase to the limit on Tribunal contractual jurisdiction from £25,000 to £100,000.
  • The Tribunal should be able to hear claims from workers that they are working in excess of the maximum working time limits under the Working Time Regulations 1998.

There are other recommendations, but the above draws out those with the biggest impact on our clients. The report does address a number of anomalies and discrepancies that users of the judicial system have highlighted over the years. The Law Commission has taken a pragmatic approach to addressing these. The government is now to consider the recommendations. An interim response should be published by the end of October this year and a full response by next April. The full response should set out which recommendations are accepted, rejected and modified. We will keep you advised of the government’s response in due course.

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Verity Buckingham

About Verity Buckingham

Verity is experienced in all aspects of employment law and corporate immigration matters. She deals mostly with corporate clients advising on contentious and non-contentious employment matters. Verity's contentious practice includes defending claims in the Employment Tribunal and experience of Employment Appeal Tribunal litigation in relation to claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination, equal pay and whistleblowing.

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