From 6 April 2014 prospective claimants in the employment tribunal are required to contact ACAS prior to issuing most proceedings. ACAS will then refer the matter to a conciliator who will see if it is possible to reach a settlement in a process known as “Early Conciliation”.
Notification to ACAS
It is mandatory for prospective claimants to notify ACAS prior to bringing a claim. ACAS will then contact the prospective claimant to invite them to partake in conciliation. The decision as to whether to take part in the conciliation process is voluntary, although obviously may reflect negatively on the prospective claimant at the Tribunal if they choose not to do so. Prospective respondents can also decline to take part in the conciliation process.
It is also open to prospective respondents to initiate the conciliation process before an employee does so, for example if an employer anticipates a dispute arising, he can notify ACAS himself rather than waiting for the employee to do so.
If the conciliator determines that a settlement is not possible the conciliator will issue the prospective claimant with a certificate to that effect, allowing them to make their application to the Employment Tribunal.
The Early Conciliation Service will be provided free to both employers and employees and it is hoped that the process will encourage more disputes to be settled without reference to the Employment tribunal.
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