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The employment tribunals (early conciliation: Exemptions and rules of procedure)

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  • The employment tribunals (early conciliation: Exemptions and rules of procedure)


    The Employment Tribunals (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2014 set out the rules that will underpin the Early Conciliation procedure and contain five exemptions, which allow claimants to present a claim to an employment tribunal without complying with the requirement for Early Conciliation.

    When a prospective claimant contacts Acas, this triggers a ‘stop-the-clock’ mechanism in the limitation period running on their employment tribunal claim. This means that the prospective claimant’s limitation period (the time to lodge an employment tribunal claim) is put on hold, for up to one calendar month, with a provision for an extension of two weeks if Acas believe that the claim is close to settlement. This will allow enough time for conciliation to take place without the need for the claimant to take any legal steps to protect their rights. If Acas concludes that settlement is not possible, the pause on the limitation period will end on the day that the prospective claimant receives (or is treated as receiving) an Early conciliation certificate from Acas, which demonstrates that they have completed the Early Conciliation process. Prospective claimants will need the reference number from the certificate to complete any subsequent employment tribunal claim form.

    Early Conciliation will be provided free of charge. Both the claimant and the respondent will be able to decline Acas’s services at any stage.

    How will Early Conciliation work?

    Before a person lodges an Employment Tribunal claim, they will have to notify Acas by completing a simple online form. Acas will contact the potential claimant within two working days. We will gather basic information on the dispute itself and provide information about Early Conciliation.

    The case will then be passed on to a conciliator who will aim to make contact with both parties and talk through the issues to see if a solution can be found. Find out more about conciliation and how it works from the Acas conciliation services Q&A. You may also find the infographic (available to view on the left) and the Early Conciliation flowchart [17kb] useful, which set out the process of reaching a settlement.
    We have structured the service to ensure that each time we receive a request for Early Conciliation we can quickly contact the people involved.
    What type of issues will Early Conciliation help resolve?

    Early Conciliation will help resolve the majority of workplace disputes which may lead to an employment tribunal, including:
    • unfair dismissal claims
    • workplace discrimination
    • redundancy payments or disputes around selection procedures
    • deductions from wages or unpaid notice/holiday pay
    • rights to time off or flexible working
    • equal pay.

    After Early Conciliation is introduced, anybody who wishes to lodge a claim with an employment tribunal will have to provide an Acas Early Conciliation Reference Number. A limited number of exemptions may apply, and the Employment Judge can decide whether they are relevant. People can always notify Acas first, and they will try to help find a resolution.

    Early Conciliation exemptions

    There are six exemptions to early conciliation. They are set out at Regulation 3(1) of SI 254/2014. The exemptions are expressed on the claim form in the following way:

    (a) Another person I'm making the claim with has an Acas early conciliation certificate number.

    (b) Acas doesn't have the power to conciliate on some or all of my claim.

    (c) My employer has already been in touch with Acas.

    (d) I've been unfairly dismissed and I intend to apply for interim relief.

    (e) My claim is against the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service or GCHQ.

    (f) (If before 6 May 2014) I haven't contacted Acas.

    It will be a requirement for a claimant to provide the tribunal with a number or an exemption category before the claim can be considered presented. After presentation, the tribunal will carry out a verification of any certificate number provide, and an Employment Judge can consider potential jurisdictional issues beyond that point.
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  • #2
    Re: The employment tribunals (early conciliation: Exemptions and rules of procedure)

    From Today (6 May 2014) anyone who wants to lodge an employment tribunal claim will have to contact Acas to try Early Conciliation

    Find out more on their dedicated webpage.

    You can also read Acas discussion and commentary on the introduction of Early Conciliation in their recent blog posts which feature on the page.

    More information on Early Conciliation

    • Early Conciliation explained leaflet [128kb]
      This leaflet details how a request for Early Conciliation is made, how Early Conciliation can help, how long it lasts, what happens if conciliation is successful and what happens if an agreement isn't reached during the process.
    • Early Conciliation flowchart [17kb]
      Find out about the process of reaching a settlement with Early Conciliation.
    • Acas conciliation services Q&A
      FAQ about conciliation and how it works.
    • Early Conciliation infographic (left)
      See how much time and money can be saved by considering conciliation as an alternative to the Employment Tribunal.
    • Acas Policy Blog
      Read Acas discussion and commentary on the introduction of Early Conciliation in our recent blog posts.

    What are the benefits of Early Conciliation?

    • Using Early Conciliation can save people the time, cost and anxiety of facing an Employment Tribunal.
    • Conciliators will help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and ways of resolving it.
    • Independent research has found that the average cost to an employer of resolving a case through Pre Claim Conciliation (the forerunner to Early Conciliation) is just £475, with employers spending on average one day on a claim, compared to an average of £3700 and four days for an Employment Tribunal.
    • Early Conciliation gives both parties up to a calendar month to explore resolving their dispute using the services of an Acas conciliator. It can be shorter, or up to 14 days longer according to need.
    • When Early Conciliation has finished you will have at least one calendar month in which to submit a tribunal claim.
    • It's confidential - nothing you tell us will be passed on to anyone else unless you agree. Most tribunal proceedings are public.
    • It's voluntary - both parties must agree to take part before the process can start, and either can change their mind at any time.
    • It's not an "either/or" option - if you can't reach an agreed outcome you can still to go to a tribunal. But Acas will continue to offer support to find a resolution until the Tribunal hearing itself.
    • It's independent - Acas doesn't represent either employers or employees nor are we part of the Tribunal. Our expert conciliators don't take sides or make judgements. Our role is simply to help people find a solution.
    • It's professional - Acas are the experts in helping people deal with problems at work.
    • It's free.

    Any opinions I give are my own. Any advice I give is without liability. If you are unsure, please seek qualified legal advice.



    • #3
      Re: The employment tribunals (early conciliation: Exemptions and rules of procedure)

      One thing to note about early conciliation is that the clock stops at the time you submit your form to ACAS. :clock:

      You have 3 months minus one day from the date your employment is terminated to submit an ET claim, however, nowadays that really means you have that time to submit your early conciliation request to ACAS. One you submit it, you don't have to worry about having your claim in before the 3 months are up. If ACAS do not succeed in reaching an agreement with your former employer, they will issue a certificate which you'll need to submit your claim. They will also give you a timeframe in which to submit the claim.

      Although going through early conciliation is compulsory, it is not compulsory to agree to conciliation. You can just tick the box that says 'no' to conciliation when you submit the form, in which case ACAS will not contact your employer and will just issue the certificate so you can go on to the Tribunal. I suspect this approach may work against you unless you have a very good reason to avoid conciliation. Time isn't an issue since the clock stops while the process is going on through ACAS.


      • #4
        Re: The employment tribunals (early conciliation: Exemptions and rules of procedure)

        So in effect 3 months to ACAS plus 1.5 months in conciliation plus 1 month to submit to ET. In total 5.5 months just in case some employers attempt to scupper the initial 3 month limit! 😳




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