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Time limit for claim started when new contract imposed

Gateley Legal

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Issue 

Employment Tribunal claims have to be submitted within a relatively short period of time. Most require that the claim is received or at least ACAS contacted to start Early Conciliation within three months of the date of the detrimental act or incident. The question in Ikejiaku v British Institute of Technology Ltd was whether imposing a new contract should be regarded as a continuing detriment or a ‘one-off’ act when calculating the time limit.

Facts

Mr Ikejiaku was a senior lecturer. He had in 2015 reported the fact that he had been in contact with HMRC in relation to the employer’s failure to pay tax and NIC’s on his behalf. He was told that he was self-employed and was provided with a new contract to reflect this. Despite this, he continued teaching until two years later he complained that he had been told to pass a student who had been cheating. He was dismissed the following day allegedly due to a reduced need for teachers.

Decision

Mr Ikejiaku claimed that he had made protected disclosures and had as a result been dismissed having previously suffered a detriment when he was placed on a different contract. It was held that he had been unfairly dismissed and that he had been subject to a detriment when he was forced to work on new terms. However, the introduction of the new contract had been a 'one-off' rather than a continuing act which meant that the part of his claim related to detriment had been brought out of time.

Key point

It can often be unclear whether a decision which has ongoing consequences will be regarded as triggering the start of the time limit. Banning certain workers from a site has been held to amount to a one-off act whilst instigating disciplinary proceedings has been held to be an ongoing act as it created a state of affairs that would continue until the conclusion of the disciplinary process. Whichever side the decision falls it will be important to take into account when considering the time limits for litigation. 

More information

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