ACAS early conciliation (EC) was introduced in April 2014. Since this time employees must engage with EC before presenting a claim to the Employment Tribunal (ET). At the end of the period in which EC takes place (EC period) the employee will be presented with an EC certificate containing a number which must be quoted on the claim form. An employee generally has three months from the date on which their employment terminates to bring an unfair dismissal claim against their employer. This period is called the limitation period. Since April 2014 the limitation period is extended to take account of the EC period, which is generally up to one month. If EC is started within the last month of the limitation period, the limitation period will be extended be a further month from the end of the EC period.
Myers and Another v Nottingham City Council
In Myers and another v Nottingham City Council, two employees contacted ACAS, and therefore commenced their EC period, before their employment was terminated on the grounds of redundancy.
The matter was not resolved during the EC period and the employees presented their claims to the ET. Before the tribunal the employer, Nottingham City Council (NCC), argued that the days after contacting ACAS to commence EC and before the employees were dismissed (5 days) should not be added to the limitation period, which would have meant that their claims were submitted out of time.
The ET rejected NCC's argument and found that the whole EC period should be added to the limitation period despite the fact that the employees contacted ACAS and the EC period commenced prior to their dismissal. The reasoning was to encourage, rather than penalise, employees contacting ACAS promptly.
This is a useful reminder to Employers if they want to monitor when a potential claimant's limitation period will end and therefore when they might expect to receive notification of a claim in light of the ACAS early conciliation procedure.