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[Series] Employer-Friendly Policies - Early Conciliation Process

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[Series] Employer-Friendly Policies - Early Conciliation Process

[This is part three of a three part series on the “employer-friendly” policies which the Coalition Government have implemented during their tenure.]

The employer-friendly policies have the aim of reducing potential liabilities on employers in order to encourage continued employment within the workplace. With the announced continued drop in unemployment figures, a fall of 146,000 to 2.02 million in July 2014, this gives added impetus for the Government to suggest that these new policies have assisted that aim.

In this post I will discuss the ACAS Conciliation Process changes which came into force in May 2014.

From 6th May 2014, any employees or workers wishing to bring a tribunal claim against their employers must partake in what is now called a compulsory “Early Conciliation” process. This process is facilitated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) and is aimed at encouraging the parties to reach a settlement to any employment dispute without having to proceed with a claim at the employment tribunal.

How does it work?

The compulsory Early Conciliation process will apply to most claimants, although there are exceptional circumstances where the individual will not need to comply with this procedure. For the majority of cases however, the claimant must now contact ACAS either by telephone or by completing a notification form to advise them of their dispute. ACAS will then contact the individual in order to see whether they would be interested in engaging in Early Conciliation and, if so, a conciliator will then aim to contact both parties in an attempt to reach settlement. If settlement is not possible, ACAS will issue a certificate marking the end of the process. The individual will then need to issue their claim with the tribunal if they did wish to commence proceedings against their employer.

What is the purpose of the introduction of this extra step in an employee/employer dispute?

The Early Conciliation process is an attempt by the Government to reduce the number of claims brought to the employment tribunal table. This follows the Fee-regime, which was introduced in July 2013, has contributed to a 71% drop in claims in April-June 2014 compared with the same period in 2013, and this new Early Conciliation Process is aimed at continuing that downward trend further.

Are you considering making a claim against your employer and would like to talk it through? Please feel free to drop me an email or give me a call on 01908 660 966.

Are you an employer? Have you noticed that this particular change has helped reduce the claims that you have received from your employees? I would be interested to hear your feedback.