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New Mandatory ACAS Conciliation

New Mandatory ACAS Conciliation

From 6th May 2014, new rules were introduced which regulate the way that proceedings should be issued in respect of employment rights at an employment tribunal. An aggrieved employee must now formally notify the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (“ACAS”) before initiating a claim.

Angela Shaw, employment solicitor at Lanshaws Solicitors said: “The reason for this new mandatory requirement is to actively promote negotiation in the early stages of a dispute before it progresses to litigation and to reduce the burden on employment tribunals. The early conciliation scheme actually started on 6th April 2014, but this was only on a voluntary basis.

The prospective claimant must now submit a completed Early Conciliation Notification Form to ACAS or provide the information by telephone. The Form must include the contact details of both the claimant and the respondent and basic information about the anticipated claim, otherwise the application may be rejected. With the permission of the claimant, ACAS will endeavour to contact the respondent to explore the possibility of resolving the employment dispute without recourse to an employment tribunal. Following receipt of the Form or telephone call, ACAS will have up to one calendar month to facilitate negotiations which can be extended for a further period of 14 days, provided that both parties consent and ACAS believes that there is a reasonable prospect of settlement. If a resolution is achieved, this will be outlined in a confidential document and the matter will not progress.

There are likely to be instances where the relationship between the claimant and respondent has so irretrievably broken down that negotiation will not be possible. The claimant will be issued with an early conciliation certificate number (subject to exemptions) to be inserted into the claim form and should have one calendar month from this date to submit a claim to an employment tribunal.

Many claimants fail to realise that there are strict time limits to issue a claim, usually 3 months from the date that employment was terminated. The new rules will impact on this time limit so that any accepted formal conciliation process will effectively stay the limitation date, that is, “stop the clock”, which will create an extension of time. Claimants must be very careful to ensure that the vital limitation date is not overlooked.”

This blog provides generic information only and should not be relied upon. It is important that any potential claimant should seek legal advice.