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Mandatory ACAS Early Conciliation – One year on.

There are a number of ways in which the parties can attempt to resolve an employment dispute and reach a settlement before it becomes the subject of a tribunal claim including direct negotiation, private mediation and judicial mediation. As part of the government’s plans to make the tribunal system more efficient, in May 2014 there was a duty placed on the parties and the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to attempt conciliation before a claim is submitted.

Newly published figures show that in the first year of mandatory Early Conciliation, Acas has dealt with over 83,000 Early Conciliation cases and three out of four employees and employers agreed to try EC in its first year of operation. Of the Early Conciliation notifications received between April 2014 and December 2014; 63% did not proceed to a tribunal claim, 15% resulted in a formal COT3 settlement and only 22% progressed to a tribunal claim. Of the 22% in which a claim was issued, more than half (51%) subsequently settled by way of Acas COT3.

Early conciliation saves claimants and employers time, with figures showing claimants spent six hours on their dispute on average, compared to six days spent on disputes during employment tribunal cases. Furthermore 96% of claimants and their representatives who agreed a financial sum as part of their settlement confirmed that it had been paid. This compares favourably to claimants given a financial award at tribunal, where 63% said that they had received their payment.

The Early Conciliation service exists to provide free and impartial help to an employee who wishes to bring a claim against their employer, helping to create a dialogue between the two parties so that a settlement can be reached without incurring the cost of Tribunal proceedings. The role of the ACAS conciliator is to talk through the issues with the parties, explain the options available to them and outline the procedure that has to be followed. However the conciliator will not negotiate the terms of an agreement on behalf of an employee or advise them on the merits of their claim. Therefore, it is always a good idea to consider legal representation to ensure the matter is concluded to your satisfaction.

If you have any queries about ACAS Early or need help with negotiating the terms of a settlement please do not hesitate to contact Just Employment on 01483 303636 or info@justemployment.com.

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