The time limit provisions are contained in s48(3)-(4A) ERA. Under s.48(3) ERA, claims should be brought within three months of the act or deliberate failure complained of, or the last act or failure if the worker was subjected to a series of detriments. This time limit must be carefully considered in conjunction with the ACAS early conciliation provisions (see further below).
Where it was not reasonably practicable to present the claim within the primary time limit, the period may be extended by such extra time as the tribunal considers reasonable. However, the test of reasonable practicability is a strict one, and it can be very difficult to persuade a tribunal to grant an extension of time.
In whistleblowing detriment claims, the cause of action crystallises on the date when the detriment is suffered.
Under s.48(4) ERA, where the complaint relates to a deliberate failure to act, time runs from the date that the employer decided not to act. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, this will be the date when the employer did an act inconsistent with doing the failed act or, in the absence of such act, the date by when the employer might reasonably have been expected to have acted.
Since May 2014 it has been mandatory for claimants to complete the early conciliation process provided by ACAS before a claim can be lodged (this is subject to certain, limited exceptions). Very broadly, claimants must ensure that they contact ACAS to apply for Early Conciliation before the expiry of the time limit for their claim. The time limit clock is then paused while the Early Conciliation process runs its course. The Early Conciliation process, and its impact on time limits, is complex and is beyond the scope of this article. Detailed information and guidance can be found on the ACAS website.