Employment tribunal time limits

There are strict time limits for making a claim to an employment tribunal.

If you're thinking about making a claim, the first step is to notify Acas. You should do this within your time limit. You have either:

  • 3 months minus 1 day – for most claims
  • 6 months minus 1 day – for claims about statutory redundancy pay or equal pay only
For example, you were paid the wrong amount on 1 May. To work out your time limit, add on 3 calendar months then take off 1 day. Your time limit starts on 1 May and ends at 11:59pm on 31 July.

Going through grievance, disciplinary or appeal procedures does not change your time limit. If those procedures take a long time, you still need to notify Acas before your time limit runs out.

When your time limit starts

In most cases, your time limit starts from the date the problem at work happened.

For example:

  • unfair dismissal – the time limit starts from the 'effective date of termination'. In almost all cases, this means either the last day of your notice period, or the date you were dismissed if your employer did not give you notice
  • pay and wages – the time limit starts from the date you were not paid correctly
  • discrimination – the time limit starts from the date of the last act of discrimination you're including in your claim

Working out time limits can be complex, especially if:

  • your problem at work covers more than one type of claim, for example both unfair dismissal and discrimination
  • there have been multiple incidents or the problem is still happening

Get help

For help with understanding how time limits work, or to talk through your options, contact the Acas helpline.

If you need to work out your exact time limit, you might need to get legal advice.

If your time limit has passed

If your time limit has passed, you can still make a claim to an employment tribunal. It's up to the judge to decide whether they will accept your claim. However, in most cases time limits are strictly enforced.

To find out more about your options, contact the Acas helpline.

How early conciliation can pause your time limit

When you notify Acas that you're thinking about making a claim to an employment tribunal, we will offer you early conciliation. This is when a conciliator speaks with you and your employer separately to help you come to an agreement.

If you try early conciliation, your time limit is paused for up to 6 weeks while conciliation takes place.

Deadline for making a claim after early conciliation

If early conciliation does not resolve the problem, Acas will send you an early conciliation certificate.

You will have at least 1 month from the date you receive your certificate to make your claim to the employment tribunal.

If you want to work out your exact deadline

Count the number of days from the day after you notified Acas up to and including the day you received your early conciliation certificate (this is the 'date of issue' on the certificate if you received it by email, a bit later if you received it by post).

Add that number of days on to the date of your original time limit for notifying Acas (in most cases 3 months minus 1 day).

If the new date is:

  • less than a month after you received your early conciliation certificate, you have 1 month from the date you received your certificate to submit your claim
  • more than a month after you received your certificate, this is your new deadline
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