Early Conciliation is nearly here....
On 6 April 2014 a major part of the Government’s programme of employment dispute reform will come into force with the introduction of ACAS Early Conciliation. The new scheme will require an employee who believes that they have a claim against their employer to notify ACAS of the dispute before they can issue a claim in the Employment Tribunal. This will give ACAS the opportunity to attempt to resolve the dispute through conciliation as an alternative to the claim proceeding to the Employment Tribunal.
ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) provides impartial assistance to both employers and employees and already offers a dispute conciliation service. However currently there is no requirement on the employee to involve ACAS before issuing a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
The new mandatory dispute notification scheme should give ACAS more time to resolve the dispute and is likely to result in a further reduction in the number of claims issued in the Employment Tribunal. This comes at a time when Government statistics show that that there has been a 79% drop in the number of Employment Tribunal claims issued following the introduction of fees last year.
From 6 April 2014 onwards employees in dispute with their employer will be required to notify ACAS of the dispute by telephone or by completing an online form. ACAS will then gather details of the dispute and attempt to contact both the employer and employee within 48 hours to invite them to cooperate in telephone based conciliation by an ACAS conciliator.
If both parties agree to engage in the conciliation the dispute will enter a period of conciliation of one calendar month (which may be extended by 14 days). If the dispute is resolved ACAS will draw up a legally binding agreement recording the agreed terms.
If either party refuses to engage in the conciliation process or the dispute is not resolved following conciliation ACAS will provide an Early Conciliation Certificate. The Certificate will be required before the employee can issue proceedings in the Employment Tribunal.
The normal 3 month time limit by which claims must be issued in the Employment Tribunal will be extended to allow Early Conciliation to take place. The time limit clock will stop when the dispute is notified to ACAS and restart when the Early Conciliation Certificate is issued.
For further information on the Early Conciliation scheme or any other employment related matters please contact John Carteron 01442 200101