ACAS pre-claim conciliation has been available to employers and employees for many years and was expanded in 2009 to encourage settlement. It has been a popular arrangement but there was no duty on either the employer or employee to try to conciliate through ACAS before issuing a claim.
From April this year Early Conciliation will be introduced and all ‘prospective’ claimants must send certain information to ACAS before they can issue a claim. ACAS has a duty to conciliate and try to promote a settlement and only if this fails will they be able to issue a claim. ACAS will continue to be able to conciliate if a claim is issued if the parties request it or the conciliator thinks that a settlement may be achieved.
As the pre-claim process is going to be mandatory certain steps must be followed and demonstrated:-
- Step 1: The prospective claimant must send "prescribed information" in the "prescribed manner" to ACAS.
- Step 2: After an early conciliation support officer has made initial contact with the prospective claimant and confirmed that they wish to proceed, the claimant's information is sent to a conciliation officer.
- Step 3: The conciliation officer must try to promote a settlement within a "prescribed period".
- Step 4: If a settlement is not reached, either because the conciliation officer considers that settlement is not possible, or because the prescribed period expires, the conciliation officer must issue a certificate to that. The prospective claimant will be unable to pursue most tribunal claims without this certificate.
ACAS have provided some information on this process on the website and drafts of the Early Conciliation Request Form and Early Conciliation Certificate can be found as annexed to Early Conciliation: Government Response to consultation on proposals for implementation .
This additional step will make it even more essential for any potential claims to be considered early. We will keep you updated as the introduction date approaches and will be happy to answer your questions.
Director Employment Department