Is there anything that an employer can do if it misses the deadline for submitting a response to an employment tribunal claim?

When a claim form (ET1) is issued and sent to the employer, the covering letter from the tribunal will specify the deadline by which the response (ET3) must be received. The employer should act as quickly as possible if it discovers that the deadline has been missed.

The employment tribunal rules allow a respondent to apply for an extension of the deadline even where the deadline has already passed. The application must be made in writing to the tribunal. It must set out the reason why the employer is seeking an extension. The employer should draft the response and include this with the application, or it must give an explanation of why it is not possible to include a draft response.

The employer can request that a hearing be held to decide the application for an extension.

When making the application, the employer must also copy the letter to the claimant, or the claimant's representative if there is one identified in the claim form. The claimant can oppose the application by giving written reasons for doing so within seven days of receiving it.

Under rule 21 of the Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2013 (SI 2013/1237), if no response has been presented to the employment tribunal within the relevant time limit, an employment judge may issue a judgment on the information available, or may decide to hold a hearing. The judge will decide whether or not the respondent will be permitted to participate to any extent in the hearing. If the tribunal agrees to extend the time limit following an application from the employer, any judgment made under rule 21 as a result of the employer missing the original deadline will be set aside.