From 6 May 2014 all employees with potential claims against their employer/ex-employer will have to attempt early conciliation through ACAS. ACAS has however today opened up this service one month early on an optional basis for those who believe that a settlement may be possible before submitting a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
The form for applying for early conciliation is here: https://ec.acas.org.uk/Submission/Create
and although the ACAS guidance is rather unwieldy the Government’s stated intention is to try and reduce the number of claims handled by the Employment Tribunal. Certainly the figures demonstrate that the Government’s aims are not unrealistic as the vast majority of claims before the Employment Tribunals settle before any Hearing is held. The big question is whether the practice will reflect the aim.
Employees will complete the form, submit to ACAS and a conciliator will then call the employee to discuss their concerns and what claim they believe they have. They will also discuss compensation and what the employee hopes to achieve. ACAS will then seek to contact the employer to discuss whether a resolution is possible. The hope is that a deal will be struck without the need for a claim to be submitted saving both the parties and the Employment Tribunals time and money.
Although a fine theory it will be seen whether employer’s embrace the possibility of early conciliation where no claim has been submitted and they will not have had the chance to take legal advice on the merits or otherwise of the employee’s claim. As conciliation can continue throughout the case it may be that employer’s choose to put the employee to the cost and time of submitting their claim before deciding on a course of action.
Finally it should be noted that where a claim is submitted to ACAS for early conciliation there will be a one month pause in the normal deadlines for submitting a claim to facilitate the early conciliation.
If you have any queries or issues regarding early conciliation or any employment law matter please do not hesitate to contact our Gary Smith on 01279 712576 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org