The EAT has ruled a claimant is not required to undergo the early conciliation process again when amending an already existing employment tribunal matter to include a later claim.
This case involved a claimant (Ms Mills) suing her employer (Science Warehouse) for sex and maternity discrimination after resigning her position at the company while on maternity leave.
After she went through the early conciliation (EC) process and issued proceedings in the employment tribunal, Ms Mills’ employer responded that had she not resigned, she would have been dismissed, due to a misconduct issue that had not previously come to light.
Ahead of the preliminary hearing of the case, Ms Mills decided to amend her claim to include a further complaint of victimisation, in response to the new allegation made against her.
There is a legal requirement for prospective claimants to fill in an EC form before they can commence employment tribunal proceedings. But did the claimant need to do so for her new victimisation claim, after proceedings had already been started?
When making their decision as to whether to allow the claimant to amend her existing claim without having to recommence EC, the Employment Appeal Tribunal took the following factors into account:
- The law clearly states that only prospective claimants, not existing claimants, have an obligation to commence EC.
- The law also states claimants are not required to undergo EC for each claim, only each “matter”.
- Parliamentary legislation has made clear that prospective claimants wanting to begin the EC process only need to supply contact details of both parties involved, not the details of the claim.
After taking all these factors into account, the EAT held that because Ms Mills had already undergone EC on the matter in question and had commenced proceedings, she did not need to undergo the EC process again for the new claim.
This case indicates future tribunals may well rule in favour of a claimant not having to undergo EC more than once if they have already issued a claim, provided all claims, including the new ones, are related to a “matter”, even when the additional claims fall outside the initial claim’s time limitation period.