Changes to the way UK employment claims are dealt came into force today (May 6) with prospective claimants now being required to submit an ‘Early Conciliation Form’ to ACAS before raising a claim in the employment tribunal.
The new regime makes it mandatory for claimants to submit basic information to ACAS (The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) to identify themselves, and the prospective respondent, so that ACAS can initiate contact with both parties. An appointed conciliator will then encourage settlement between the two sides.
Why has early conciliation been introduced?
This is significant because it gives employees the opportunity to raise complaints and seek to negotiate compensation without the charges which apply in the employment tribunal system.
It could also benefit employers too as they will be alerted in advance to any potential claims which they can then try and deal with through conciliation.
According to ACAS early conciliation is there to act as a free early dispute resolution service saving employers and employees the stress, cost and anxiety associated with the tribunal process.
Since ACAS Early Conciliation was launched on April 6 2014 (note: it has been voluntary from 6 April but is now compulsory from 6 May 2014), ACAS says around 1000 people have contacted it about early conciliation every week. It says that 98 per cent of those who have contacted it about early conciliation have decided to try the service, with its first case settled within 24 hours. Meanwhile, ACAS says that 100 employers have contacted it to try early conciliation.
How Harrison Drury can help
As with all employment claims, it’s imperative for businesses to seek early legal advice to ensure their business is protected if ACAS contacts them regarding early conciliation. I can help you decide what to do if early conciliation is offered, if and how to engage, and the possible implications of engaging and negotiating a settlement.
For businesses which use our HD Anytime fixed fee service, or our HR Compass employment law package, legal costs for dealing with ACAS early conciliation will be included within the yearly retainer.
We are also offering a fixed fee service to act on behalf of employers who are contacted by ACAS under the new regime. This will include an initial telephone strategic review of the issues and representation during the whole conciliation process.
For more information on this subject, or any other employment law matter, please contact the Employment team 01772 258321.