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  • In 2014 the Government announced the launch of the early conciliation service by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas)

    Early conciliation was launched back in April 2014 and whilst it was voluntary for one month, it became a mandatory process as of May 2014. This meant that, as of May 2014, anyone thinking about lodging a claim with the employment tribunal, must contact Acas first either by telephone or by filling out the online form. 

    What are the benefits of early conciliation?

    The service seeks to resolve workplace disputes, avoiding the need for employment tribunal litigation.

    There are many benefits of early conciliation, including:

    • Costs associated with a tribunal claim can be significant, but early conciliation is free. 
    • The process is confidential and nothing that is discussed can be shared with the employment tribunal.
    • It is much quicker than going to an employment tribunal. 
    • It's often less stressful and easier due to the fact that it involves far less paperwork and a smaller amount of preparation is required. 
    • The process is entirely voluntary – whilst the potential claimant has to inform Acas that they intend to make a claim, either the claimant or defendant can refuse to engage. 
    • Outcomes can be agreed including outcomes that the employment tribunal cannot provide e.g. a reference. 
    • If you are successful, a legally binding agreement known as a COT3 can be drawn up. 

    What are the deadlines for early conciliation?

    In most cases, a potential claimant will have three months less a day to start early conciliation from the date the problem at work occurred. 

    The conciliation process affects the time limit for bringing a claim as the time limit is paused for up to 6 weeks whilst conciliation takes place. If early conciliation is not successful, the potential claimant will have at least one month from the end of early conciliation to make a claim.

    What has been achieved in the 10 years of early conciliation?

    As reported by Stewart Gee, Product Manager at Acas “Since early conciliation was launched, Acas has received over 1 million cases and less than a third (290,000) of these have gone on to lodge claims with the employment tribunal.

    Early conciliation provides the opportunity to try and resolve a dispute quickly and cost effectively. It has been found that respondents who fail to engage with early conciliation are more likely to have an employment tribunal claim lodged against them. According to figures provided by ACAS, in 2022-2023 over 14,000 respondents failed to engage with early conciliation, with around half of them subsequently having a tribunal claim lodged against them.

    If you need advice or support with early conciliation or have any questions, please contact our employment law team today.

    Contact our team today

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