Many thanks for your patience, I am pleased to be able to continue assisting with your query now. When the employer is taking disciplinary action, they need to do so without unreasonable delay. What is reasonable will depend on the individual circumstances and why there has been a potential delay in dealing with the matter. For example, did the employer only recently find out about the messages, were there any obvious delays due to lockdown and the pandemic, did new evidence only recently come about and so on. These are all factors that can potentially justify a delay and whether the delay is reasonable will depend entirely on what the grounds for it were in this particular situation.
Unreasonable delay could potentially make a dismissal procedurally unfair and that is when you can look into claiming unfair dismissal against the employer if needed, which you must do within 3 months in the Employment Tribunal.
Before a person can make a claim in the employment tribunal, they would be required to participate in mandatory early conciliation through the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
The purpose of this process is to allow ACAS to mediate between the claimant and respondent to agree on an out of court settlement in order to avoid the need for legal action in tribunal. The respondent does not have to engage in these discussions, or if they do and the talks are unsuccessful, the claimant will be issued with a certificate allowing them to make a claim.
However, if a settlement is reached, the claimant would agree not to proceed with the claim in return for the agreed financial settlement. Other terms can also be agreed as part of the settlement, such as an agreed reference.
The next steps you need to take in order to initiate the conciliation procedure are to contact ACAS, either online by filling in the following form (https://tell.acas.org.uk/find-a-solution-to-your-employment-dispute), or by phone on 0300(###) ###-####
If the conciliation process was not successful and you then wanted to make a formal claim in tribunal, you can do so here:
Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand. If anything remains unclear, I will be more than happy to clarify it for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.