Acas Early Conciliation – What’s Involved?
If an employee is going to make a claim to an employment tribunal, they must now notify Acas first.
We discussed this new process at our last Employment Law update in the spring and the changes came into force on 6 May 2014. We’ll give you an update at our next workshop on 23 October 2014, but in the meantime, here’s what you need to know.
Before an employee can take a case to tribunal, they have to talk to Acas first, who will offer them the chance to use Early Conciliation, which is an opportunity to settle workplace disputes without going to court. They will ask your employee if they want them to contact you, their employer, about settling without going to tribunal. Some employees want their day at court, so this makes them think about it, before making a final decision. They are not obliged to take part in the conciliation process, but they must complete an Early Conciliation notification form before they can take you to a tribunal.
What this means to you, as an employer, is more waiting time. Previously, after an employee left your business, if you had not heard from them in three months about any issues, you would not have heard any more. Now the process can take longer. However, early conciliation is a good opportunity for you to either settle or get early warning of a case being brought against you.
Early Conciliation can help resolve the majority of workplace disputes which may lead to an employment tribunal, including:
- unfair dismissal claims
- workplace discrimination
- redundancy payments or disputes around selection procedures
- deductions from wages or unpaid notice/holiday pay
- rights to time off or flexible working
- equal pay.
Since its launch in May this year, the Early Conciliation service has been well used. According to Acas, around 1000 people have contacted them about the service every week since its launch, with 98% deciding to try the service. Even though there is an initial one month period for settling a claim, Acas’ first Early Conciliation case was settled within 24 hours.
Take a look at the Acas website for more information, where you’ll find a useful flow chart which will show you the process.