Claimants are required to contact ACAS under the Early Conciliation provisions prior to submitting a claim in the Employment Tribunal. In order to allow a claimant more time in which to do this the normal three-month time limit is extended so that there is at least one month after the EC Certificate has been received in which to submit the claim. In the case of Mrs S Peacock v Murreyfield Lodge Ltd the question was whether a second notification could also extend the time limit where the first notification had errors.
Mrs Peacock was dismissed on 6 April 2018. She contacted ACAS under the Early Conciliation Scheme on 6 June. However she wrongly gave the employer’s address as the place at which she attended a meeting with a director. Nevertheless an EC Certificate was sent to her on 18 June. In the meantime she instructed solicitors who unaware that she had already contacted ACAS also sent a notification through on 14 June and received an EC Certificate on 25 June 2018.
It was held that the presentation of the claim on 23 July 2018 was out of time. Even though the address provided had been wrong the first certificate was still valid. The mistake in the address had not prevented ACAS from making contact. The extension of time applied from receipt of the first Certificate on 18 June 2018. The second certificate which had been received a week later had not been required and as voluntary had no impact on the time limit.
Employees and employers need to be aware that an extension of time to submit an Employment Tribunal claim will generally only apply to the first ACAS EC Certificate and that any further Certificate would fall outside the statutory scheme as it would be voluntary only. The key issue was that contact had been made despite the error. It considered that only where there were fundamental differences in the name of the Respondent would an Employment Judge potentially find the notification invalid.