Labour minister pledges to double employment claim time limit and end 'motherhood penalty' | Bolt Burdon Kemp Labour minister pledges to double employment claim time limit and end 'motherhood penalty' | Bolt Burdon Kemp

Find your Lawyer

Free call back
Contact us
Round the clock support
Won't shy away from difficult cases
Committed to swiftly progressing claims

Labour minister pledges to double employment claim time limit and end ‘motherhood penalty’

Labour minister Anneliese Dodds pledged to double the time limit to bring claims to an employment tribunal in a move I believe would benefit both claimants and employers.

The current Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities and chair of the Labour Party, expressed support to extend the existing time constraints from three to six months, during a Labour Party Conference fringe event.

Currently, there are strict timeframes that must be adhered to when filing a claim. For cases involving unfair dismissal and discrimination, there is a three-month minus one day window from the date of the incident within which the claim must be made. This stringent time frame can present a challenge for victims who may be dealing with trauma or related issues as a result of the incident at work that prevents them from filing a claim within the necessary timeframe.

During the conference event, sponsored by maternal rights charity ‘Pregnant then Screwed’ (PTS), Dodds emphasised the importance of supporting women’s rights, and in particular, the rights of pregnant women.

Benefits to employees and employers

Women who face unfair dismissal or discrimination on the basis of pregnancy often find the three-month timeframe requires them to engage in stressful legal proceedings at the height of their pregnancy, or shortly after childbirth. This form of stress can have adverse effects on the health and well-being of both the pregnant woman and the baby.

A 2018 report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission indicated nearly 11% of pregnant women and mothers faced dismissal, redundancy, or discrimination in that year. It is evident there is a great need to enhance the accessibility of legal avenues to ensure as many victims as possible can obtain justice. The extension of the three-month time limit for filing claims would be a positive step towards this goal. Dodds classed the proposed policy as part of “a genuine end to the motherhood penalty”.

The tight timeframes imposed by tribunals also have a discouraging effect on other people, such as the disabled, those who have lasting trauma from workplace discrimination, and those who lack the resources or information they need to file a claim on time. Increasing the time limit for bringing a claim to the employment tribunal to six months would benefit all these groups, as well as employers.

By removing the intense time pressure of litigation within a three-month period, this extension would promote a more cooperative and constructive dialogue between the parties, thereby encouraging the likelihood of settling claims outside of the tribunal system.

Staff turning to civil proceedings with longer time limits

Due to the strict time limits, more and more people consider avoiding employment tribunals and instead go down the civil route where time limits are much more generous, and the legal costs position is also more favourable, as the Claimant’s own legal costs can often be recovered from the other side in civil claim.

In civil cases, if the claim includes an allegation of negligence, the claimant has three years to make a claim from the date of any injury. For claims under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (“PfHA”) the time limits are even more generous, with six years from the last incident of harassment.

If you have been the victim of workplace harassment or bullying, you can contact Bolt Burdon Kemp for a free and confidential conversation with one of our experts.

Some of Our Accreditations

See more of our accreditations

We’re here to help you.

Want to talk to one of our experienced lawyers? We can call when it suits you for a no-obligation, strictly confidential chat.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser.

This site (and many others) provides a limited experience on unsupported browsers and not all functionality will work correctly or look its best.