New rules come into force today (1 December) relating to Acas early conciliation.
Acas early conciliation is a compulsory process that employees (or ex-employees) must follow before they can submit a claim to an employment tribunal. It is designed to allow the parties an opportunity to reach a settlement before incurring the costs involved in issuing proceedings.
Previously, a significant majority of claims would settle once the employer had submitted its response to the claim when the parties had already incurred significant costs, which in turn inflated the costs involved in settlement.
The employee must contact Acas via an online form. Acas will then contact the employee and seek to understand the purported claim and what the employee wishes to achieve by way of settlement. Acas then contacts the employer to see if a deal can be negotiated.
Previously, the early conciliation period would last for one month with a possible extension of a further two weeks if the parties agreed.
The new rules allow for a standard six-week Early conciliation period. This seems a sensible and pragmatic step as in our experience the backlog of cases with Acas currently means that employers are often not being contacted until the original month had nearly expired.
If you are involved in Acas early conciliation, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.