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ACAS early conciliation: What is it?

Estimated reading time: 4 mins

Carrie Tennick, April 23, 2019

Problems at work arise. That’s just an unfortunate part of life. However, when they get serious enough to become a legal issue, that’s where the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (better known as ACAS) can step in and help.

ACAS early conciliation could help you overcome a dispute you may be having with your employer. It can aid you in achieving the resolution you’re looking for.

What is ACAS early conciliation?

If you’re having a workplace problem, you may have a few options to address and resolve it.

ACAS advises that the best way of dealing with workplace problems is to tackle them early. This can be done by speaking directly with your line manager. ACAS recommends making use of your company’s appeals or grievance procedure.

According to ACAS: “Putting your claim in before giving your organisation the chance to resolve it can reflect badly on your case at tribunal.”

But if there is no way of resolving issues – whether that’s through a lack of official processes or discomfort at the thought of discussing the problem with your employer – you may decide that you want to take your employer to a tribunal. Once you know this is the course of action you want to follow, you have to inform ACAS. At this point, it will offer you the option of early conciliation.

ACAS early conciliation steps

If you want to pursue early conciliation with ACAS, you’ll need to submit an early conciliation notification form. You’ll then receive a letter of acknowledgement, as well as an email with a phone number to contact ACAS on. The organisation will confirm your details and discuss some initial queries about your claim.

For this phone call, it would be helpful for you to have your ACAS reference number and a payslip or other document with your staff number and the name of your employer.

Early conciliation is entirely voluntary. Neither you nor your employer is under any obligation to take part in ACAS early conciliation. If you do decide to proceed, your claim will then be passed on to an ACAS conciliator.

Your conciliator will then discuss your issues with you or your representative and your employer. They will try to find a resolution to the problem you’re having.

Early conciliation must be started within three months minus one day of the incident you’re complaining about. If you’re claiming statutory redundancy pay or equal pay, the deadline changes to six months minus one day after the event.

Although this may seem like you have a long time to make a claim, employment law is complex. This means there may be several procedures to follow, potentially delaying the process.

The process of early conciliation lasts up to a month. But if ACAS thinks you’re getting close to reaching an agreement, this can be extended by up to two weeks.

Benefits of ACAS early conciliation

There are benefits to going through the process, though. According to ACAS: “Reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal case.”

ACAS early conciliation is free and could potentially result in a conclusion to an employment case after a few phone calls.

If you and your employer choose to go through early conciliation, you’ll find that what you tell ACAS is kept confidential. Your conciliator will only share information you’ve told them with your employer if you agree that it might help in settling the case. This is in contrast to tribunal hearings, which are heard in public.

Potential problems of ACAS early conciliation

Early conciliation may be beneficial to many individuals and employers. But processes such as these are rarely obstacle-free for everyone.

For example, if you engage in early conciliation with your employer, you may find that your conciliator starts applying pressure to both parties in an attempt to reach an early settlement. This may result in you not receiving the level of compensation you’re entitled to.

Another potential issue with early conciliation is that it depends entirely on both parties being willing to engage in the process. If your employer refuses to take part, you won’t be able to proceed.

If you find that early conciliation is not going to be a viable option for you, you may be left wondering what your options are. This is where First4Lawyers could help you.

We could help you find a specialist employment solicitor who will be able to help you present your claim at a tribunal hearing. The right lawyer will be able to advise you on the strengths and weaknesses of your case and help you prepare to give yourself the best chance of success.

For a free discussion of your employment issue, get in touch with us today. Just give us a call on the number at the top of the screen or click here to make an enquiry.