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May 2014

Conciliation and workplace disputes

Early Conciliation is offered by ACAS to help to settle the dispute without going to court. It will become a legal requirement (unless an exemption applies) for a claimant of a tribunal claim to have made an Early Conciliation notification to ACAS from 6 May 2014.

Therefore, tribunal claims will not be accepted unless the complaint has been referred to ACAS and a conciliation certificate, which confirms that the Early Conciliation requirements have been met, has been issued.

To make a request, the quickest and simplest way is through the Early Conciliation notification form on the ACAS website. Alternatively, claimants can discuss their options by calling 0300 123 11 22.

Exemption

If the prospective claimant is one of many people making a claim against the same employer who has already been made a request to ACAS in the same dispute, the other potential claimants may be eligible for the exemption.

Features of Early Conciliation

Information and options – Parties are able to get a clearer idea of the case’s strengths and weaknesses and therefore explore the feasible options to settle their differences.
Time and money – Early conciliation is totally free of charge from ACAS. Also, if parties can settle their differences, this will avoid the expense, risk and stress of going to tribunal. Furthermore, early conciliation can be a quick solution as many cases can be dealt with in a few telephone calls, with agreed outcomes implemented very soon afterwards.
Impartiality – ACAS makes sure it operates in a neutral position as it does not represent either the employee or the employer.
Voluntary basis – Although prospective claimants are required to contact ACAS before making a tribunal claim, they only need to participate in discussing the matter and attempt to resolve it if they want to. And the process can be stopped at any time by either party.
Independency and confidentiality – Since ACAS is not part of the tribunal system, what you tell them can only be discussed with the other party if you agree that it will be helpful in trying to settle your case. Otherwise, whatever is discussed during the course of conciliation cannot be used by either party at a tribunal hearing.
Control – Since agreements to avoid a tribunal are made by the parties, agreed outcomes can include things not available at tribunals such as a reference or an apology.
Trust – In the case where the claimant is still employed, early conciliation increases the chance of avoiding a permanent breakdown of the employment relationship – if that is what both sides want to achieve.

Contact: David Hacker

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