What is the time limit for bringing a claim in the Employment Tribunal?
The time limits vary depending on the type of claim being raised. Most claims in the Employment Tribunal have a strict deadline of three months. For example, an unfair dismissal claim should be brought within three months of the date of dismissal, a constructive dismissal claim within three months of the date of resignation and a discrimination claim within three months of the act of discrimination. However, there are a number of exceptions to this three month time limit. Also, before a claim can be raised, an employee has to contact ACAS which can extend the deadline. Please see our Guide on early ACAS conciliation for more details.
How does an employee raise a claim in the Employment Tribunal?
Firstly, an employee must check that they qualify to bring their particular claim. If the claim is for unfair dismissal, generally speaking, an employee needs two complete years’ service with an employer before such a claim can be raised. There are some exceptions to this which include being dismissed for a pregnancy related reason or for being involved in a union. Claims of discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 or of whistleblowing are not subject to the same qualifying period of service.
In order to raise most claims, an employee must contact ACAS to use their free early conciliation service, before the claim can be raised to the Tribunal. Once an employee has been through this process or at least, made contact with ACAS, they should be issued with a certificate. They are then in a position to raise their claim in the Tribunal using an ET1 form which can be completed and submitted online.
There are strict (and short) deadlines that apply to bringing a claim and starting early conciliation so it is important to act quickly.
What is Early ACAS Conciliation?
This is the process that must be followed before an employee can raise a claim to an Employment Tribunal. The aim of the process is to try and encourage settlement or conciliation before a claim is brought. This can be a very useful tool for employees, particularly where the deadline for submitting a claim is fast approaching as this process will stop the clock and ensure that they have a minimum of one month to raise a claim. Please see our basic guide on Early ACAS Conciliation for more details.
What process should employers follow in a disciplinary or grievance situation?
All employers should have their own disciplinary and grievance procedures in place which should set out details of the process and timescales which should be followed. As a minimum, or if an employer does not have such policies and procedures in place, the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievances should be followed. Failure to comply with the minimum requirements of this Code can lead to a 25% uplift or reduction against the defaulting party in Tribunal proceedings.
What is a Settlement Agreement?
A settlement agreement (previously known as a compromise agreement) is a legally binding document under which an employee agrees to waive their legal rights against their employer, in return for compensation. An employee is required to take independent legal advice on the terms and effect of the settlement agreement, to ensure that they understand their position and the rights they are waiving, before the agreement can be signed and becomes legally binding. Please see our Guide on Settlement Agreements for more information.
What is TUPE?
TUPE stands for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 and it applies to business transfers and to changes in the provision of services so as to protect employees. Where TUPE applies, affected employees will transfer into the employment of a new business or service provider, on their same terms and conditions of employment and with continuity of service preserved. There is certain information that should be provided to affected employees and consultation processes that an employer should follow when TUPE applies. Please see our Guide on TUPE for more information.
What are restrictive covenants?
Restrictive covenants are clauses in a contract designed to restrict an employee from undertaking certain activities for a period of time after their employment has ended, in order to protect an employer’s business interests. Business interests can include client relationships, relationships with contacts, confidential information and trade secrets.
Restrictive covenants typically relate to non-solicitation or poaching and non-dealing with clients, contacts or employees, as well as a restriction on being employed or engaged by a competing business, known as a non-compete clause.
Are restrictive covenants enforceable?
As restrictive covenants are an unlawful restraint of trade, they will not be enforceable unless they are necessary to protect the legitimate business interests of a company. They must also go no further than necessary to protect those business interests. This means that they must be reasonable in terms of the duration of the restriction and the geographical area to which they apply. They should also be drafted carefully so as to accurately reflect each employee’s role and should be reviewed and updated if any changes are made to that role, such as a promotion.