Claims for breach of contract in the Employment Tribunal are frequent – perhaps one of the most frequent types of claim. However, the question often arises as to whether an employer can counter-claim for breach of contract if an employee submits such a claim. We’ll therefore take a look at this particular point in this post by addressing the following issues:
- When can a counter-claim in the Employment Tribunal be brought against me?
- What can an employer counter-claim for against me?
- What is the time limit for my employer bringing a counter-claim for breach of contract?
Please note: it is recommended that you obtain expert employment law advice from a qualified lawyer
When can a counter-claim in the Employment Tribunal be brought against me?
In order to bring a c0unter-claim for breach of contract against a former employee, the former employee must first have submitted a claim for breach of contract to the Employment Tribunal. The requirements for a valid claim and excluded claims are similar to those for breach of contract, namely:
Requirements for a valid claim
- The claim must not be an excluded one and not a claim that a civil court in England and Wales could hear;
- The claim must arise out of or be outstanding on the termination of the employment of the employee; and
- The claim must be for damages for breach of the employee’s contract of employment or for the recovery of a sum due under such a contract
The following types of contractual claims are excluded from the jurisdiction of the Employment Tribunal (among others):
- Disputes regarding restrictive covenants
- Disputes regarding terms of contractual confidentiality
- Contractual terms relating to intellectual property
What can an employer counter-claim for against me?
Counter-claims are brought by employers if the employee’s failure to adhere to the terms of the contract causes the employer to incur losses. Generally, counter-claims include claims for:
- Failure to return company property
- Overpayment of salary or holidays
- Repayment of loans to the employer
- Reimbursement for misappropriation of the employer’s funds
- Negligence against the employee (less common)
What is the time limit for my employer bringing a counter-claim for breach of contract?
An employer must submit a counter-claim for breach of contract within six weeks of the date on which it received a copy of its former employee’s breach of contract claim. However, this time limit may be extended (as is normal) if the Employment Tribunal is satisfied that it was not reasonably practicable for the employer to present the claim within this time limit.