When a dispute occurs at work between you and an employee, staff can seek a resolution at an employment tribunal.
However, before the dispute can reach the tribunal stage, individuals must contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) and begin early conciliation.
You can read this guide for further information on the process. Or you can contract us right now for assistance with this issue: 0800 028 2420.
What is Acas early conciliation?
It seeks to find an amicable resolution to ongoing employment disputes in the hope of avoiding tribunal proceedings.
So, before an individual can lodge a claim with an employment tribunal they’ll have to participate in the early conciliation scheme.
Employees who are intending to make a tribunal claim must complete and submit an Acas early conciliation form.
Once Acas has received the form, it’ll reach out to the potential claimant and their employer separately to offer early conciliation services.
As part of the conciliation process, Acas will typically encourage the employee and the employer to try and resolve the dispute using any internal grievance or disciplinary procedures.
They’re also on hand to help both parties understand each other’s viewpoint, as well as to communicate any proposals for a settlement.
However, because Acas must remain impartial, they can’t advise either party on whether to accept or make any counterproposals for a resolution.
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Advantages of early conciliation
If successful, early conciliation can save both parties a lot of time and money in the long-run by avoiding tribunal proceedings.
It can also prevent any unnecessary stress that can come from participating in a drawn out tribunal process.
Early conciliation may also help repair any rifts at work and avoid the permanent breakdown of the working relationship.
In situations where the claimant is still under employment this can restore trust and help with retention.
How successful is Acas early conciliation?
Since its introduction in 2014, early conciliation has proven to be successful in reducing the burden placed on the tribunal system.
In fact, the latest figures released by Acas, covering April 2018 to March 2019, reveal 76% of early conciliation cases either led to a settlement, or saw the dispute fail to reach the tribunal stage.
How long does early conciliation last?
Acas will typically have a period of one calendar month to negotiate a settlement between both parties. However, an extension of up to two weeks is possible if deemed necessary to achieve an amicable solution.
It’s also important to note the early conciliation time limits effectively “stop the clock” on the window employees have to make a claim to an employment tribunal.
Typically, individuals will have three months to raise a claim, depending on the nature of the incident, and this time limitation clock will “start again” once early conciliation is over.
The employer and the employee are free to refuse early conciliation services, which’ll result in Acas providing an early conciliation certificate to the employee.
The same certificate will also be provided if neither party is able to agree on a solution at the end of the consultation period.
At this point, the employee may use the number on the certificate to complete the ET1 form and lodge an official claim with an employment tribunal.
An explanation of exemptions
There’ll be instances where employees will be exempt from taking part in the Acas early conciliation procedure and may instead submit a claim directly to an employment tribunal. These are as follows:
- When employees include their claim on the same form as another employee who’s already carried out early conciliation.
- When employees can prove the employer has already contacted Acas.
- When an employee is making a claim for interim relief.
Need our help?
If you’re facing an employment tribunal, get in touch with us immediately for assistance through the process: 0800 028 2420.