Time limits

You must usually make a claim to the tribunal within 3 months of the problem at work happening.

  • if you think you’ve lost your job unfairly the 3 month period begins from the date your employment ended
  • if your claim is about discrimination or a dispute over pay, the 3 month period begins when the incident or dispute happened

Before making a claim to an employment tribunal you must contact Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to use their free Early Conciliation service.

The time limit for making a claim is put on hold while Acas helps you settle the dispute.

Acas: early conciliation

Acas provides impartial information, advice and conciliation services on all aspects of employment law. It's available to employers and to employees.

Before making a claim to an employment tribunal you must contact Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to use their free Early Conciliation service. This service aims to sort out problems without having to go to an employment tribunal.

To use this service, fill in the Acas early conciliation notification form (which can be found on the Acas website), or contact Acas:

Phone: 0300 123 1100
Textphone: 18001 030 0123 1100

Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm
Saturday, 9am to 1pm

Early conciliation certificate number

If Acas can't help you come to an agreement with your employer, they will send you a certificate.

The certificate will contain an Acas early conciliation certificate number. You'll need this number when making your online claim to an employment tribunal.

Conciliation with multiple respondents

If you're making a claim against more than one employer or individual, you'll need an Acas early conciliation certificate number for each employer.

Exceptions to early conciliation

You may not have to contact Acas for early conciliation if:

  • you're making the claim with another person who's already been through early conciliation
  • Acas doesn't have the power to conciliate on some or all of your claim
  • your employer has already been in touch with Acas - you'll need to provide evidence of this
  • you're making a claim about a certain type of unfair dismissal that allows you to apply for 'interim relief' and it's within 7 days of the dismissal

If you think you don't need to contact Acas, you may want to get legal advice before you start your claim.

Interim relief

Interim relief is when an employment tribunal orders an employer or business to give the job back to someone they sacked until a hearing happens.

If you're making a claim for interim relief, you don't have to contact Acas for early conciliation.

You can only make a claim for interim relief if your claim is for certain reasons such as whistleblowing, trade union activities or acting as a workers' representative.

The tribunal must receive your claim and application for interim relief within 7 days of you losing your job.

Writing your claim statement

Describe your problem at work. It should explain to the person you're making the claim against (the respondent), and the tribunal what happened. Make sure you include:

  • relevant background information
  • dates of the incidents
  • names of the people involved

Write in short paragraphs. Describe events as they happened, giving details of witnesses and any evidence you have. Don’t attach evidence documents.

See below for specific guidance relating to each type of claim:

Unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal

  • describe what happened
  • say what you think the reason was for dismissal
  • say why you think the dismissal was unfair

Discrimination

  • describe what happened
  • explain how you were discriminated against
  • give the date(s) of the incident(s)
  • state whether the discrimination is still happening
  • if you’re claiming more than one type of discrimination, provide details about each type
  • describe how you’ve been affected by the discrimination
  • if you applied for a job and were discriminated against, say what the job title was

Pay

  • state how much you’re claiming and explain how you worked it out
  • explain why you think you should receive this payment (include dates and rate of pay)
  • if you’re claiming more than one type of payment, provide amounts for each one

Redundancy payment

  • say whether you’ve asked your employer for payment (if so, give the date)
  • state if your claim was rejected by a redundancy payments office (if so, give the date of the rejection letter)

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