April’s employment law changes saw an alteration to the Acas procedure.
Since 6th May, The Acas Early Conciliation procedure has become mandatory. This is an opportunity for the claimant and workplace to settle a dispute without going to court. With this procedure in effect, those who wish to make a claim against their employer must first submit details to Acas via telephone or a paper-based form. This is simply the names and addresses of both the claimant and the employer, and at this stage no details of the claim need to be presented.
At this point, if the claimant wishes to attempt conciliation Acas will contact the employer to see if an agreement can be reached. If this is possible, the case will be concluded with an Acas Cot3 agreement. In cases where an agreement cannot be reached, an Early Conciliation Certificate will be issued by Acas. The Early Conciliation period lasts for one month, however this can be extended, if Acas believe it is likely that a settlement will be reached and both parties agree, the extension can be up to two weeks. If both parties agree that a settlement will not be reached, the Early Conciliation period stops at that time.
If no settlement is reached or the claimant does not want to enter into any conciliation, the claimant can proceed to submit a claim to an employment tribunal, providing they have received a copy of the Early Conciliation certificate. Without this, they would not have an Early Conciliation Certificate number meaning the claim would not be accepted. As the Early Conciliation stage is now compulsory before submitting a claim to tribunal, the claim period will be extended to accommodate this.
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