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Employment Law

Legal guidance - compliance - software

29 MAY 2015

Early conciliation - a useful reminder of the 'stop the clock' rule

Early conciliation - a useful reminder of the 'stop the clock' rule
Jessica Ryan
Solicitor, Veale Wasbrough Vizards

An Employment Tribunal (ET) has held that even if Acas early conciliation (EC) starts before the termination of employment, the whole time spent in EC should still be added on to the normal time limit for bringing a claim.

The established time limit for bringing a claim in the ET is three months from the effective date of termination (EDT). However, the introduction of EC has brought with it a new 'stop the clock' regime that both sides must take into account.

Parties must now attempt EC for up to one month before issuing a tribunal claim. The three month time limit is paused during the EC period and time starts running again once the EC certificate is issued. This has the effect of allowing claimants up to one further month in which to bring claims.

In Chandler v Thanet District Council, Mr Chandler was given notice of his dismissal on 14 February 2014. The EDT was the date his notice period expired (14 May 2014). Mr Chandler commenced EC prior to the EDT, on 8 May 2014. The EC period ended on 8 June 2014. Mr Chandler lodged various ET claims on 10 September 2014.

A dispute arose as to whether the days before the EDT should be added onto Mr Chandler's time limit for bringing a claim. The ET has held that they should count, and has added the full month spent in EC onto the three month period for bringing a claim. On this basis Mr Chandler had until 13 September to bring his claims. He was therefore in time and his claims can proceed.

Best practice

This case, whilst not yet binding on other tribunals, provides a straightforward interpretation of the effect of EC before dismissal. In any event, both parties to a dispute should be aware of the usual analysis regarding EC periods - that the time spent in EC will 'stop the clock' when it comes to time limits for bringing a claim.
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