What is Early Conciliation?

From May 2014 most employees will only be able to bring an Employment Tribunal Claim against their employer if they have referred the issue to ACAS for early conciliation first. The aim of this reform is to try and reduce the number of claims that are being brought to the Tribunal.

Will this reform work? It’s unclear just how effective this reform will be. An employer may want to wait and see if the employee actually pays to take the matter to the tribunal after all there has, according to recent statistics, been a 79% decrease in the number of claims issued due to the fees which were introduced earlier. On the other hand if early conciliation is successful it would save both parties considerable time and costs in dealing with the matter within the Tribunal. Only time will tell how effective this reform will be.

When does it start?

Early Conciliation began on 6th April 2014 on a voluntary basis.  However as of 6th May 2014 it will be mandatory for most claimants to refer the matter to ACAS before being able to present a claim in the Employment Tribunal.

How does it work?

Stage 1 – The claimant needs to complete the ACAS early conciliation form (https://ec.acas.org.uk/ ) which requests both yours and your employers basic details along with basic information in relation to your employment.  The form can either can be completed and submitted online or printed and sent by post to ACAS. No details of your actual claim need to be given at this stage.

Stage 2 – ACAS will then make reasonable attempts to contact the claimant and with the claimants permission the employer. If contact cannot be established with either one of these then ACAS will deem the matter not suitable for conciliation and issue a conciliation certificate which the claimant will need to issue an application before the Tribunal.

Stage 3 – In the event contact is made with both parties and both agree to the conciliation (participation being voluntary) ACAS has a month to try and help the parties reach an agreement. This can be extended for up to 14 days with the agreement of both parties if it seems likely that an agreement will be reached. During the conciliation period the clock stops on the time limit for lodging a tribunal claim therefore the time limit will not run out.

Stage 4 – If the conciliation officer concludes at any point during the conciliation period that it is not possible for an agreement to be reached or the conciliation period finishes without an agreement then ACAS must issue a conciliation certificate. The claimant will then normally have 4 weeks within which time to lodge their claim with the Tribunal.

Want to know how it affects you? Get in touch and we can talk you through it.

For more information on ACAS Early Conciliation or other aspect of Employment Law, please contact Ismail Foolat via email to ismail.foolat@watsonramsbottom.com , by telephone on 01254 70 11 11 or via our contact form