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The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 introduced ACAS mandatory Early Conciliation. The purpose of Early Conciliation is to help prevent a workplace dispute from escalating into a potentially costly and time consuming employment tribunal. 

Early Conciliation applies to most employment disputes, including claims for unfair dismissal, discrimination, redundancy payments or selection, deductions from wages, unpaid notice or holiday pay, rights to time off or flexible working and equal pay etc.

The following page provides information on how what Early Conciliation is, when it can apply and what you or potential claimant is required to do.   

This information will help you if:

  • You are a manager with an employee whose name has been supplied to ACAS by a prospective tribunal claimant
  • You are a manager who is interested in engaging in the Early Conciliation process

Purpose and Scope

The purpose of Early Conciliation is to help prevent a workplace dispute from escalating into a potentially costly and time consuming employment tribunal.  The Government’s aim in introducing Early Conciliation is to reduce the overall number of tribunal claims.

Early conciliation applies to most employment disputes including:

  • Claims for unfair dismissal
  • Discrimination
  • Redundancy payments or selection
  • Deductions from wages
  • Unpaid notice or holiday pay
  • Rights to time off
  • Flexible working
  • Equal pay

Click to find the full Early Conciliation Guidance

Process – Prospective Employment Tribunal Claimant

Prospective Employment Tribunal Claimant

Process – Manager’s Name Supplied to ACAS by Prospective Claimant

Manager's Named Supplied by Claimant

Process – Employer Wants to Engage in Early Conciliation

An employer can, if it wishes, contact ACAS in the first instance to commence the Early Conciliation process. If the Council were considering this then it would be the Head of Legal and Democratic services, or nominee in Legal Services who would initiate contact, in conjunction with the appropriate Director/Head of Service.  It is likely, however, that it will be the prospective tribunal claimant who will take the first step in most cases.

Further information for employers commencing Early Conciliation is available here

Employer wants to Engage

Impact on Time Limits for Lodging Employment Tribunal Claim

Entering into the Early Conciliation process puts the time limit for lodging an employment tribunal claim on hold.  Therefore, the period between the claimant first contacting ACAS and the Early Conciliation Certificate being issued would not be counted in relation to the time limits for lodging a tribunal claim.  The time period only starts to run again once the claimant receives an Early Conciliation Certificate.

Even after the tribunal claim has been made, Early Conciliation can still be available from ACAS if the claimant and employer both request it and the conciliation officer considers that there is a reasonable prospect of settlement being reached. 

How to Avoid Additional Potential Claim of Victimisation

Managers should be aware that to avoid any additional claim of victimisation against the organisation, the individual seeking Early Conciliation must not be penalised in any way.  If the person is still an employee, this includes any form of intimidation or other detriment on the basis of having contacted ACAS with a complaint.  If the person is a former employee the same would apply, which could include refusal to provide a reference or providing a poor reference on the basis of having contacted ACAS. 

ACAS Information and Guidance

Early Conciliation is a free service provided by ACAS.  It is therefore useful read this guidance in conjunction with that provided by ACAS.  The relevant ACAS pages on Early Conciliation are available here while further guidance on the process itself can be read in the Conciliation Explained document.   

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