Labour has repeated their proposal of extending the time limit for making a claim at an employment tribunal to 6 months should the party come into power.
The Labour Party’s Labour Minister, Anneliese Dodds, has restated Labour’s proposal to extend the time limit for raising employment tribunal claims from three to six months. She made this announcement during a fringe event at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool organised by the campaign group ‘Pregnant Then Screwed’.
In her speech, Dodds emphasised the need for pregnant women who may have been unfairly dismissed to have more time to seek redress. This was one of several proposals to reform employment law set out in Labour’s Employment rights Green Paper in 2021.
This proposal aims to address the so-called “motherhood penalty” and provide pregnant women with a longer window to file employment tribunal claims. The existing law allows potential claimants to raise a claim within three months of experiencing workplace discrimination, with some discretion from an employment judge. The proposal for a six-month time limit would bring limitation in line with Equality Act claims brought in the civil courts.
While this move would be widely welcomed, the proposal is not entirely new. Indeed, in recent years the government sought the views of the Law Society on proposals to improve the functioning of employment tribunals, which included raising time limits for all types of claims to six months. At that time the Law Society expressed strong support for increasing the time limit to six months and emphasised the need for proper resourcing of employment tribunals to address the backlog.
The Law Commission also recommended an extension of time limits for employment tribunal claims. It proposed that tribunals should have the discretion to extend time limits in all cases when it is considered “just and equitable” to do so.
Whether this proposed change is ultimately made law remains to be seen, however, a longer time limit could ultimately benefit both employers and employees by allowing more opportunity to negotiate settlement and avoid litigation.