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Statutory Grievance Procedures - Time Limits

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This case is important...

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (HHJ Peter Clark) has, for the first time, considered the rather complex s32(4) in the Employment Act 2002, which provides that no extension of time will be permitted for lodging a Claim Form unless a grievance letter is sent within one month of the 'normal' time limit for bringing a claim.

The EAT held that 'normal' time limit meant something different from 'ordinary' time limit, which is expressly defined as meaning the three-month period for unfair dismissal and discrimination claims WITHOUT any extension on the not reasonably practicable / just and equitable basis.

Properly construed, 'normal' time limit must mean the time limits including any escape-route extensions. Thus under the DDA 1995, a complaint could still be presented to a tribunal even though the grievance letter was presented more than four months after the alleged discriminatory constructive dismissal, because it was just and equitable to extend the ordinary three month time limit for bringing a claim.

Although not dealt with in the judgment, this will presumably apply to constructive unfair dismissal cases where a grievance is not sent within four months, but the Claimant establishes it was not reasonably practicable to present a Claim within the ordinary three-month time limit.

The crux of the judgment can be found at paras. 29-38. The appeal was brought with the assistance of the Disability Rights Commission.

Spillett v BUPA