Personal case deadlines

Personal cases being dealt with on behalf of PCS members sometimes fall foul of the strict deadlines for getting Employment Tribunal (ET) claims lodged.

The government has been making it harder for unions to get justice in the workplace, so reps need to be aware of how to ensure the system works for their members.

The most crucial point to know is that members have three months from the occurrence of the event they are complaining about, to lodge an ET claim. This is regardless of any internal processes that have happened in the meantime, be that a discussion, a medical referral, a grievance hearing, or any appeals processes against a dismissal or grievance outcome.


  • The three-month clock starts ticking on the day the event in question happened. This is a non-negotiable, legal time limit, and is not extended by internal processes.
  • New rules introduced in 2014 make it compulsory, in most cases, to firstly refer all potential ET claims to ACAS Early Conciliation (EC)
  • Early referral to PCS Legal & Personal Case Unit (PCU) is essential. Where time allows, every referral to ACAS EC should first go through the PCU.
  • Referral to ACAS EC does pause the three-month time limit. But the new rule has complicated matters. If the conciliation process ends without agreement, the clock starts again. However members are given a minimum of one calendar month, from the day they receive formal notice that EC has finished, to lodge the ET claim, regardless of when the EC process was started.
  • Employers don’t always engage with the ACAS EC process – and members may also refuse it – but we still have to refer the cases as it’s compulsory if you intend to lodge an ET claim. For ACAS EC referrals, the claimant (not their rep) must complete the ACAS online form or phone 0300 123 11 22.
  • If reps need advice with determining whether there is a legal claim, they should initially contact branch reps or other senior lay officials. If they’re unable to assist or unavailable, contact PCU at Use the appropriate PCU1 form to summarise the key points.

Please ensure ET claims are lodged in time – do not leave it to the last day of the period, if at all possible. If you have any doubts about the timetable, seek advice from the PCU:
020 7801 2651

Updated 11 April 2018

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