The Government has now published Regulations and Rules setting out the new Early Conciliation Rules of Procedure. The Rules set out the process to be used by potential claimants before bringing a Tribunal claim. The Regulations and Rules came into force on 6 April 2014. The Early Conciliation process is mandatory for claims presented to a Tribunal on or after 6 May 2014.
What is Early Conciliation?
• Help from ACAS to settle the dispute without going to court
• From 6th May it is a legal requirement to make an Early Conciliation notification
• Tribunal claims will not be accepted unless the employee has been referred to ACAS and has a conciliation certificate
• It’s a free, impartial, independent and confidential service
What does it mean to you as an employer?
• The first you may know about any potential issue is when you get contacted by ACAS
• The conciliator will talk through the issues with you and the employee/ex-employee
• The purpose is to explore how the potential claim might be resolved
• They will discuss issues and possible resolutions
• Help both sides to understand how the other side views the issues
• Conciliation may last up to one month – it can be extend once for 14 days
• If the issue is not resolved the case will be closed and the employee can then make a tribunal claim
How this affects the usual three-month time limit to bring claims is not straight forward
• The time limit for bringing a Tribunal claim will be put on hold while Early Conciliation is in process – effectively “stopping the clock”
• If Early Conciliation starts within a month of the expiry of the time limit, a further month is added after the end of Early Conciliation for the employee to bring a claim.
• This means, for example, that if Early Conciliation is initiated on the day before the time limit expires, an employee could potentially have up to 5 or 5 and a half months within which to bring a claim.
If Early Conciliation is successful and a resolution is reached both parties will sign a formal record of agreement. This is a legally binding document and will mean the employee can no longer bring a claim regarding this matter.
If Early Conciliation is not successful then the employee will be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal. If a tribunal claim is made the Conciliator will again offer to help resolve the issue before it goes to a tribunal.
But don’t forget since July 2013 employees now have to pay to bring a tribunal claim. The cost of this varies depending on the type of claim.
As the employer you don’t have to deal with ACAS if you don’t want to, you have a choice.
As an employer if you have any employee issues then give us a call. 01980 878698