14 March 2014
The ACAS early conciliation service will launch on 6 April 2014. Under the scheme, employment tribunal claimants will be required to first notify details of their claim to ACAS, who will then attempt to conciliate a settlement without litigation. Notification to ACAS will be through completion of a form – which, according to recent speakers at IER conferences, is not as easy as it sounds – or by telephone.
ACAS says it will contact a claimant within one working day of receiving a claim to finalise all relevant details; the matter will then be referred to a conciliator. The conciliation period can be for up to one month, although there is no obligation to use the whole month.
If the claim does not settle, ACAS will issue a certificate confirming that the conciliation process is complete, allowing the case to proceed to Tribunal (so long as you can afford the fees!)
The period within which a claim is with ACAS will not count for calculation of time limits; and if the time limit would expire during that period, or within the month after the certificate is issued, then the claimant will have up to one month following receipt of the conciliation certificate in which to lodge a claim.
This will obviously make the diarising of time limits in employment cases much more complicated and representatives are advised to be particularly aware of limitation issues.
The new ACAS early conciliation process will be discussed at our Access to Justice event
on 19th March but if you’ve missed that opportunity, you can join the discussion at our conferences on the Employment and Regulatory Reform Act in Liverpool