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Wednesday, 27 July 2016 06:23

ACAS Early Conciliation

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ACAS, aka Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, has a longstanding statutory duty to promote and help achieve the resolution of employment disputes that may otherwise result in a claim before an Employment Tribunal. This conciliation role has however had a different emphasis since the introduction of Employment Tribunal fees in July 2013.

 Shortly afterwards in April 2014, a new ACAS Early Conciliation service came into operation. Under these regulations, it became mandatory for employees intending to lodge a tribunal claim to contact ACAS in the first instance, to explore the possibility of a resolution of the dispute through Early Conciliation.

Once a notification is made to ACAS, the legal time limit within which the employee would need to bring a tribunal claim is extended by one calendar month. This provides the parties with a period of time to discuss all options with the conciliator and try to reach an agreement without the need for a Tribunal hearing. Although ACAS has a legal duty to offer conciliation, the parties do not have to accept it. It therefore makes interesting reading to evaluate the latest figures relating to Early Conciliation, which have been released this week.

Statistics of cases handled by ACAS between April 2014 and March 2015 sit alongside the results of a research paper, commissioned to examine the effectiveness and level of utilisation of Early Conciliation. The research data was obtained via a telephone survey of claimants, employers and representatives whose cases concluded between September and November 2014. A large number of interviews (1,337 claimant and 1,255 employer) interviews were also undertaken, supplemented by a series of other interviews with a broad range of these service users.

The statistics and research results illustrate the resounding success of the scheme from the standpoint of the Government target, aimed at drastically reducing the number of Employment Tribunal claims within the justice system. Lest we forget, much credit must of course go to the country wide teams of ACAS conciliators who appear to have shouldered the considerable burdens of caseloads and expectations with great skill and commitment.

The figures make interesting reading. Some of the key points to arise are as follows

  • A total of 83,423 cases were notified and registered with ACAS for Early Conciliation between April 2014 and March 2015, comprising 80,734 from claimants and 2,689 from employers.
  • The average weekly throughput of cases has eventually settled at around 1,800 per week over the last six months of the period.
  • This period also included around 3,300 notifications lodged after August 2014 relating to the court decision concerning the calculation of holiday pay
  • With over 4,400 cases being lodged on behalf of groups of claimants, this means that well over 100,000 employees have lodged details of disputes in the 12 month period.
  • In this first year of operation, only 8,504 (about 10.5%) of employees rejected the offer of Early Conciliation.
  • ACAS only contacts the employer if the employee has accepted the offer of Early Conciliation. In these cases, only 9,242 (11.4%) of employers in turn rejected the offer of conciliation in this first year.
  • Of the 60,814 cases notified between April and December 2014, 15% (9,304) were settled by ACAS, 63% (37,625) were dropped by the claimants, leaving 22% (13,585) which progressed to an Employment Tribunal claim.
  • ACAS continues its conciliation role after Early Conciliation efforts and assisted a resolution of the dispute in 51% of those cases
  • Only 3% of the claims which then entered the system and which resulted in a Tribunal hearing were successful at a hearing

Make sure your business doesn’t join this list.The YBC HR Support service continues to offer clear legal advice alongside practical guidance to steer your organisation through any employment dispute or claim.

Early consultation with us can avoid your business becoming another Early Conciliation statistic.

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Paul Kelly

Co-founder of Your Business Community, Paul has been running his own small businesses since 2001, after leaving his job as Product & Marketing Director of Bush Radio plc.

With great experience in setting up and running several businesses, as well as helping entrepreneurs at all stages of their development, Paul is a great supporter of SME's.

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