In September 2013, one of HR Solutions’ clients was rather surprised to receive an Employment Tribunal claim from one if its former employees.
The Claimant had been employed by the Company for over 25 years and was in his late 50’s. In February 2012 he had written to the Company to advise them that he had decided to take early retirement with effect from 31st May 2012. The Company arranged for him to draw his pension, threw him a retirement party at a venue of his choice and bought him a very generous leaving present.
The Company was somewhat astonished when, over 12 months later, they received a copy of his claim from the Employment Tribunal. He was claiming constructive dismissal, a form of unfair dismissal, and was asking the Tribunal to award him over £120,000!
The essence of his claim was that he felt that his decision to retire had been driven by what he considered to be health and safety breaches in the factory. He claimed that this had resulted in him feeling ‘overwhelmed and suffering from chronic fatigue’. He accepted that he had not raised this at the time of his retirement.
Section 111(2) of the Employment Rights Act 1996 states that a claim for unfair dismissal must be made ‘before the end of the period of three months’ from the date of termination or within such further period as the Tribunal considers reasonable in a case where it is satisfied that it was ‘not reasonably practicable’ for the complaint to be presented within three months.
As this claim was not lodged until 8th September 2013, some 15 months later, it was clearly out of time. HR Solutions requested that a Preliminary Hearing be convened and asked the Tribunal to dismiss the Application on the basis that it not been presented within the 3 month statutory time limit. We further argued that there were no grounds for the Tribunal to extend the time allowed and that there was no reason to accept that it had not been ‘reasonably practical’ for the Claimant to lodge the claim within that period.
We required that the Claimant produce his medical records for the relevant 15 month period. There was nothing in his medical notes that could show that he was debilitated from lodging a claim. He argued that he had been ‘fatigued’ and ‘overwhelmed’ but there was nothing in his medical records to support this.
In January 2014, the Judge in the Employment Tribunal dismissed the application for being lodged out of time, without even hearing any formal evidence. His decision was based solely on the comprehensive set of documents, witness statements and written arguments prepared and submitted by HR Solutions. This case clearly demonstrates how crucial effective preparation is in the successful defence of all Tribunal cases.