Early conciliation and extension of time provisions


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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has considered the extension of time provisions under the Acas early conciliation procedure in Luton Borough Council v Haque.

Mr Haque was dismissed on 20 June 2016. He contacted Acas on 22 July 2016 (Day A), and Acas issued an EC certificate on 22 August 2016 (Day B). Mr Haque presented his claims to the tribunal on 18 October 2016 and his employer argued that all of his claims were out of time.

At a preliminary hearing the tribunal concluded that Mr Haque's claims had been presented in time, but the Council argued that they were out of time. It argued that subsection 207B(4) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA) took precedence when determining time limits (where the limitation date falls in the period between the day Acas is contacted, and one month after the day on which the prospective claimant received the EC certificate). This meant that Mr Haque should have presented his claim by 22 September 2016.

The EAT held that the claim had been presented in time. Section 207B(3) ERA operates to "stop the clock" during a period in which the parties participate in EC. Section 207B(3) and (4) are applied sequentially. This meant that the deadline to present Mr Haque's claim was extended to 20 October 2016 by subsection 207B(3). If that later deadline of 20 October 2016 had fallen between Day A (the day the prospective claimant contacts Acas/Acas receives their EC form) and one month after Day B (the day the prospective claimant receives the EC certificate), the deadline would have been extended further by subsection 207B(4) to one month after Day B.

Take note: The decision in Haque provides welcome clarity on the calculation of a claimant's limitation date. Claimants will have the maximum opportunity to present their claim.

This article is taken from HR Law - May 2018.

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