Early ACAS Conciliation: Launch Confirmed for 6 April
Regulations outlining the new early conciliation process have been published and will come into force on 6 April.
Whilst engaging in the conciliation process is not compulsory, it will not be possible to lodge an employment tribunal claim without an early conciliation certificate issued by ACAS.
Claimants will have to provide ACAS with details of their name and address and that of the respondent, either by completing an early conciliation form or by telephoning ACAS and providing the information. Details of the dispute are not required. The early conciliation form can either be completed on line or sent by post.
ACAS must make reasonable attempts to contact the claimant and, if the claimant agrees, the respondent. If ACAS is unable to contact either the claimant or respondent then it must conclude that settlement is not possible.
The ACAS conciliation officer has a period of up to a month to try to promote a settlement, although this can be extended by up to 14 days if the parties agree and the conciliation officer considers there is a reasonable prospect of achieving a settlement in that time.
If at any point the conciliation officer considers that a settlement is not possible or if the period for early conciliation expires without a settlement having been reached, ACAS must issue an early conciliation certificate. The certificate will include a unique reference number which the claimant will have to include on the claim form when submitting the tribunal claim.
ACAS will send a copy of the certificate to the claimant and, where it has had contact with the respondent, to the respondent by email if an email address has been provided, otherwise it must be sent by post.
Once a claimant has notified ACAS of a claim, the time limit for submitting a tribunal claim stops running until the early conciliation certificate has been issued. Claimants who notify ACAS of a claim when there is less than a month of the time limit left will have until one month after the early conciliation certificate has been issued in which to lodge their claim.
It will not be necessary to comply with these requirements in cases where:
- Another claimant presenting their claim on the same claim form has already done so;
- The claim form also includes a claim of a type where early conciliation is not required (such claims are very limited);
- The respondent has already contacted ACAS in relation to that dispute; or
- A claim for unfair dismissal is accompanied by a claim for interim relief.
The early conciliation process will be available from 6 April 2014 and compulsory for claims presented on or after 6 May 2014. Claimants making use of the optional notification process between 6 April and 5 May will benefit from the extended time limits for presenting their tribunal claim.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.