The evolution of the employment law world continues with the introduction of ACAS Early Conciliation on 6th April 2014.  Our free webinar on Tuesday 25th March 2014 covered this and more, but here is a quick summary.

  1.  What is it?

At the time of writing, a claimant can issue an Employment Tribunal claim against his or her employer by completing a form ET1 and paying the appropriate fee.  There is no obligation for the parties to try and settle their differences beforehand.  ACAS Early Conciliation will change that.

For all claims issued on or after 6th May 2014, the claimant must have first applied to ACAS to see if they can help the parties to reach a settlement.

  1.  What must a prospective claimant do?

The claimant must provide his contact details and the employer’s contact details to ACAS.  An ACAS Support Officer will then contact the claimant to get some more information about the potential claim.  Once this has been done an ACAS Conciliation Officer will contact the claimant to see if he wants to attempt to settle the dispute.  If he does, then the Conciliation Officer will contact the employer to see if it also wants to attempt a settlement.  If both parties agree, then the Conciliation Officer will have a period of one month to promote a compromise between the parties.

  1.  Do I have to agree to or engage with the Conciliation Officer’s attempts to promote a settlement?

No, but there may be tactical or commercial reasons for engaging with the process.

  1.  What if I don’t engage with the process or I do but we get nowhere?

If the parties are unable to reach a settlement then the Conciliation Officer will issue a certificate containing a unique reference number.  If the claimant issues an ET1 claim form which does not contain the certificate reference number, then his claim will be rejected.

  1.  What else do I need to know?

The parties aren’t expected to kiss and make up but ACAS could help broker an agreement which is acceptable to everyone

There is a short transitional period: the system is available to prospective claimants from 6th April 2014 but a certificate reference number is not required on an ET1 until 6th May 2014 onwards.

If both parties agree to ACAS Early Concliation this will “stop the clock” on the time limit for bringing Employment Tribunal claims, which is usually three months.

If you would like to know more about ACAS Early Conciliation or any of the forthcoming changes to employment law please watch our recent webinar or you can contact one of our employment law specialists on 020 7234 0200.