ACAS Early Conciliation Service

07 Mar

The ACAS early conciliation service launches on 6th April 2014 so what can we expect from this new facility? The main impact of the change is that anyone thinking of making a claim will have to contact ACAS first. The employee must submit an early conciliation form. This will trigger the early conciliation process and the matter will be referred to an Early Conciliation Support Officer (ECSO) being appointed. This will stop the clock as far as time limits are concerned.

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Conciliation

The ACAS early conciliation service launches on 6th April 2014 so what can we expect from this new facility? The main impact of the change is that anyone thinking of making a claim will have to contact ACAS first. The employee must submit an early conciliation form. This will trigger the early conciliation process and the matter will be referred to an Early Conciliation Support Officer (ECSO) being appointed. This will stop the clock as far as time limits are concerned.

The first stage of the process will be to get a thumb nail sketch of the claim(s). It is hoped that this will enable the ECSO to weed out claims that are bound to fail for jurisdictional reasons etc (note no assessment of merits takes place). After this initial sift of the case it is moved on to a conciliator. If the employer indicates, when contacted, that it is not interested in discussing settlement then the process will be halted immediately and a certificate of Early Conciliation completion will be issued. If there is interest in settlement then the conciliator has one month in which to try and facilitate a settlement. If after one month no agreement is reached then a certificate of Early Conciliation completion will be issued. It is possible, with the agreement of the parties, to extend the conciliation period by another two weeks (if a settlement looks likely).

A claim that is not accompanied by a certificate will not be accepted. An employer can also trigger the process and a similar process would then be followed. If no agreement is reached then a certificate will again be issued. The key point to remember is no certificate = no claim after April.

There are some exceptions to the need to use pre-claim conciliation such as multiple claims and claims against the security service. It is also worth noting that the certificate does not have to cover all the claims which are subsequently brought (it will be interesting to see how this works in practice when a wages claim turns into a full blown discrimination claim).

The speed of change has not reduced in 2014 and traps for the unwary are many, 12CPBarristers Employment Team can help you navigate your way through.

Peter D

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