Financial & Legal News

INSIGHT: Early Conciliation: How it looks one year on

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The ink had barely dried on the reforms that saw employment tribunal fees become compulsory for claimants before the process in which workplace disputes are resolved changed once again with the introduction of Early Conciliation.

Now 12 months on, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has published statistics showing that it handled more than 83,000 cases between April 2014 and March 2015, with 75 per cent of employers and employees utilising the new system.

Under the new reforms, anyone who wishes to raise an employment tribunal claim must first contact Acas, with failure to do so resulting in the claim automatically being rejected.

It was hoped that more resolutions would be reached at this early stage to help reduce the increasing backlog of tribunal claims. And on the surface it seems to have proven successful, with 63 per cent of cases lodged between April and December last year not proceeding to a tribunal and a further 15 per cent ending with a settlement.

However, whilst only one in five cases progressed to a tribunal hearing, those that did were far more complex, involving claims of unfair dismissal, discrimination and whistle blowing.

An article from HR magazine also warned that Early Conciliation could cause a rise in the number of ‘vexatious and frivolous’ claims lodged against employers, with the free of charge service meaning employees may be tempted to try their luck.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that as an employer, you remain up to speed with the ever-changing legislation and follow the appropriate course of action when dealing with employee issues.

A simple miscalculation could result in the business being dragged through a costly and time-consuming tribunal case and ultimately forced to make a hefty compensation payout.

For advice and support on Early Conciliation and how to ensure your business minimises the risk of an employment tribunal claim, contact Susan Mayall on 0161 684 6948 or email susan.mayall@pearsonlegal.co.uk. 

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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