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Time Limits: Acas Early Conciliation

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Are the two bases of extending time to account for early conciliation sequential or alternative?

Sequential, held the EAT in Luton Borough Council v Haque.

Since 2014, ACAS early conciliation has been compulsory before bringing the majority of employment claims. The statutory provisions setting time limits for bringing claims were altered to take account of the time between commencing early conciliation ('Day A') and receipt of the certificate confirming the end of the conciliation period ('Day B').

Haque concerns the provisions under the section 207B of the ERA, but the same updates were made to other employment legislation.

Section 207B sets out two mechanisms for the extension of time:

(3) In working out when a time limit set by a relevant provision expires the period beginning with the day after Day A and ending with Day B is not to be counted.

(4) If a time limit set by a relevant provision would (if not extended by this subsection) expire during the period beginning with Day A and ending one month after Day B, the time limit expires instead at the end of that period.

The EAT confirmed that these provisions are applied sequentially. First, the time limit is extended by the period of conciliation. Next, if (and only if) the time limit would then expire prior to a month after Day B, the time limit expires at the end of that month.

This ensures there is always a minimum of one month between the end of early conciliation and time expiring.

Thanks to Jason Braier of Field Court Chambers for preparing this case summary.