Are you ready for Acas' mandatory early conciliation service that launches on the 6th April 2014 and will change the way in which individuals raise an Employment Tribunal claim?
Employees contemplating raising an Employment Tribunal claim, when issues cannot be resolved in the workplace, will be required to contact Acas first and engage in mandatory early conciliation (EC) with Acas and their employer.
Currently when a claim is made to the Employment Tribunal, the secretary of the Tribunal notifies Acas of the claim and a copy of the claim form is sent to Acas directly.? Acas then contacts parties to see if there is any scope for settlement.
It is thought that EC will help individuals and employers reduce the cost, stress and time required to attend an Employment Tribunal.? This free service should help resolve the majority of workplace disputes which would previously have led to an Employment Tribunal.
There are four steps involved in the Acas early conciliation procedure:
- The employee must send the prescribed information to Acas to request EC.
- Once Acas receive a request for EC they will contact the person making the claim within one working day. ?When the employee is contacted, Acas will clarify any details on the forms they have received, gather basic information on the dispute and give the employee a further understanding of EC.? Once this has been done the case will be passed to a Conciliator who will aim to make contact with both parties within one working day of receiving the case.
- The Conciliator will then promote settlement between the parties during the ?prescribed period?, which is one month from receipt of the EC form from the individual. This period can be extended up to two weeks if both parties agree and there is a good prospect achieving a settlement.
- In the event that settlement is not agreed then the Conciliator will issue a certificate to that effect.? Without the certificate the employee will be unable to pursue a tribunal claim.
The changes being brought about by EC will mean that it will be nearly impossible for an employee to bring a tribunal claim without entering into the EC procedure because they will require the certificate in order to submit a claim.? Although parties may not agree a settlement at the outset, it may be open to them to reach a settlement via Acas at a later stage.
Some employees may be worried about the time bar issue in relation to their claim by entering into the EC procedure.? However to avoid any issues with time limits expiring during the period in which they are engaged in EC then Acas will affectively ?stop the clock? from the day that Acas are contacted by the employee and will restart when they receive the EC certificate.
If you are considering raising an Employment Tribunal claim or you think you may have a tribunal claim brought against you, please contact a member of our Employment team.