• It has now been over a month since ACAS launched its Early Conciliation (EC) Service, a scheme aimed at resolving workplace disputes quickly and at an early stage before Tribunal proceedings are issued. The EC service came into force on 6 April for a transitional month, during which there was no obligation on either party to engage with the service. However, from 6 May 2014 it became mandatory for potential Claimants to contact ACAS prior to starting legal action by completing an EC form. Once an EC form is submitted, EC is then offered to the employee and employer.

    ACAS has now published information on the success of the EC service since its transitional launch on 6 April 2014. According to ACAS, around 1,000 individuals a week have contacted them about EC since its launch and 98% of enquiries that were made decided to try the service. It was not just potential Claimants that contacted ACAS during the first month; over 100 employers also made enquiries. Impressively, ACAS states that their first EC case was settled within 24 hours.

    The EC service is modelled on ACAS’s former optional Pre Claim Conciliation (PCC) Service, which ran from 2009 until EC’s launch. ACAS state that when used PCC was successful in three quarters of cases.

    Comment

    Although early days, it appears that EC was welcomed by a number of employees and employers during the initial transitionary period. However, as it is early days there are as yet no statistics available on the scheme’s success rate and only time will tell whether EC will achieve its objective of reducing the number of Tribunal claims.

    Significantly, although it is now mandatory for Claimant’s to contact ACAS prior to issuing a Tribunal claim, it is published to either party to refuse early conciliation and they can change their minds at any stage during the process. ACAS must issue an EC certificate if at any point during the EC period it is concluded that settlement of the dispute is not possible. Once the Claimant is in receipt of an EC certificate number, it is then published to them to initiate Tribunal proceedings.

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