27 May 2016 #Employment
Early conciliation is a free service offered by ACAS. It was previously available on a purely voluntary basis, however, from May 2014 it became mandatory to contact ACAS before lodging a claim. This was in an effort to encourage early engagement and settlement between the parties, thereby, removing the need to pursue claims in the Employment Tribunal. ACAS conciliation remains open to the parties thereafter, but on a voluntary basis.
Now, two years on, ACAS have published a research paper on the effect of the early conciliation process on employment tribunal claims. So what has been the impact?
Interesting findings of the report include:
The increase in the number of ACAS notifications show that disputes in the workplace remain as prevalent as ever. However, the statistics reveal that a fair proportion of the claims notified to ACAS (31%) settled during early conciliation (i.e. before a claim had been issued) and, thus, the process would seem to be having the desired impact in encouraging the parties to settle disputes early and without recourse to the Employment Tribunal. The report also demonstrates the major role ACAS still plays throughout the tribunal process.
Early conciliation is a potential opportunity to reach an early and more commercial resolution and employers should bear in mind that they are also free to initiate the process. The report found that 4,000 cases had been notified by the employer between April 2015 and March 2016, an increase of 60% from the previous year.