15th December 2014
ACAS Provides ‘Early Conciliation’ Update
Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) has published an update in relation to the use of ‘Early Conciliation’. Since 6 May 2014 anyone wishing to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal has had to first notify Acas via the Early Conciliation service in order to provide an opportunity to resolve their dispute without the need for a claim. From 6 April this service was available on a voluntary basis.
The figures published by Acas indicate that it has received a total of 37,404 Early Conciliation notifications since April (which includes notifications made on behalf of a group of employees). As such, it is believed that notifications covering in excess of 44,000 employees were received in the first six months. Acas received approximately 1,000 notifications per week during April, increasing to around 1,600 per week for the rest of the period. It is understood that this is in line with expectations.
Once a notification is made to Acas, there is a one month extension to the legal time limit within which the claimant would need to bring a tribunal claim should they decide to do so. This ensures that there is time for discussions to see if those involved can reach an agreement. During this time Acas has a legal duty to offer conciliation, but the parties do not have to accept the offer.
The statistics published by Acas show that relatively few people reject the offer of Early Conciliation. In the first six months, 3,783 (only 10%) of employees rejected the offer. Acas only contacts the employer if the employee has accepted conciliation and in these cases, 3,727 (10%) of employers rejected the offer of conciliation.
According to the information published by Acas, of all the potential tribunal cases dealt with by way of Early Conciliation, 58% did not proceed to a tribunal claim, 18% reached a settlement and 24% progressed to a tribunal claim. However, conciliation remains available up to the day of a case being heard by the Employment Tribunal. The figures also indicate that of the 24% of cases which progressed to a tribunal claim, almost a quarter had been settled by Acas conciliators by the end of October.
It is understood that Acas will continue to survey Early Conciliation service users to gain feedback and support continuous improvement. The survey results are expected to be published by Acas during 2015.