Clarification of extended deadline for ET claims

The EAT in Joshi v Manchester City Council 2008 has clarified how the length of the statutory extension of time for presenting Employment Tribunal claims under Regulation 15(1) of the Employment Act (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004 should be calculated.

Background

Regulation 15(1) provides for a three-month extension to the normal time limit for presenting a complaint to an employment tribunal in cases where either the dismissal and disciplinary procedures apply and the employee has reasonable grounds for believing that a dismissal or disciplinary procedure was still ongoing when the normal time limit expired, or the grievance procedures apply and the employee has sent the required letter to the employer and waited 28 days.

Where it applies, the extension is for a period of three months "beginning with the day after the day on which it would otherwise have expired". It is well established that the normal time limit for presenting a claim expires three months less a day after the day on which the incident complained of occurred. In this case the EAT found that the wording of Regulation 15(1) results in an extension of three months less a day. The words "beginning with" mean that the day after the date of the expiry of the normal time limit has to be included in the calculation of the three-month period. Consequently, an employee has six months less a day from the date of the incident complained of to present the claim (assuming that the extension applies). Applying that calculation, Mrs Joshi's claim had been presented a day late and the EAT upheld the tribunal's decision that it did not have jurisdiction to hear her claim.

Impact on employers

It is important that relevant time limits are correctly calculated, as case law shows that Tribunals apply them strictly and even very short delays can be fatal to a claim.