For all Employment Tribunal claims on or after 6 April 2014, a worker must have made contact with ACAS for Early Conciliation before they are able to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal. This is compulsory and is a way for the parties to be able to try and reach a resolution of their dispute without taking the case to the Tribunal.
The key points of the Early Conciliation scheme are that:
- It is introduced for all employment disputes made on or after 6 April 2014 – even claims that are clearly out of time.
- It is mandatory for a worker to register their claim with ACAS using a simple online form setting out their contact details, the contact details of their employer and a brief explanation of their issues. It is however voluntary to engage in the process – neither the worker nor the employer has to actively participate in the process. Once registered with ACAS the effect is to stop the clock for the Employment Tribunal deadline for claims to be made for a month at least.
- An Early Conciliation Support Officer will call the worker within 24 hours who will identify and complete cases that they can’t get involved in such as out of scope cases including personal injury claims or neighbour disputes.
- A Conciliator then takes the case on and will remain the Conciliator for the life of the dispute even after the claim to the Tribunal has been made. The Conciliator speaks to both parties or their representatives if authority is given to try and secure a settlement.
- If it is not successful, an Early Conciliation certificate is issued to the worker. The clock starts again and the worker has 1 month (or what remained of the original limitation period if that was more than 1 month) to lodge their ET1 Tribunal claim form, inserting their reference number for Early Conciliation. Without the Early Conciliation certificate an Employment Tribunal claim can not be made.
The introduction of Early Conciliation is a new way for handling employment disputes but it may help individuals get a resolution to their employment dispute much sooner than they currently can do. However, it remains to be seen whether employers are going to engage in this process, or take a chance on the worker not pursuing a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
Our expert employment department can help you in the Early Conciliation process, giving you quality advice on the value and merits of your claims and how best to reach a resolution to the claims.
Contact us for further details on our fixed fee packages and the services we can offer for Early Conciliation.