It is usual for the parties in Employment Tribunal claims to want to have their day in court.
Of course, this is understandable, not least as a worker, employee or employer (‘the parties’) will want to clear their name. However, that is not always the Employment Tribunal’s function.
The tribunal will also expect the parties to seriously try to resolve their dispute without waiting for the tribunal to make a judgment in the claim. This is known as “settlement”.
This is almost always negotiated through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas). Importantly, before making a claim to the Employment Tribunal, a worker or employee is usually required to contact Acas to start a process known as “Early Conciliation”.
What Is Early Conciliation?
Early Conciliation is an attempt to reach a compromise between the worker or employee and the employer so that a claim is not then submitted to the Employment Tribunal.
It lasts for up to six weeks and is entirely confidential. Both the worker or employee and the employer have a choice to engage in it or not (although it is usually advisable to do so). During Early Conciliation, the time limits for submitting a claim to the Employment Tribunal will be paused in the interests of encouraging genuine efforts to “settle” the claim from the parties.
What If Early Conciliation Is Unsuccessful?
If Early Conciliation is unsuccessful, the time limit for the worker or employee to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal will be extended.
However, even if the worker or employee does bring a claim, Acas will remain active behind the scenes during the claim to continue exploring confidential settlement discussions with the parties.
Additionally, the tribunal itself will also offer the parties the opportunity to have their case assessed and/or mediated by a judge.
What Does Early Conciliation Mean For The Settlement Of Employment Tribunal Claims?
To demonstrate how successful Early Conciliation often is, on Tuesday 22nd June 2021, Acas published statistics for Early Conciliation notifications and Employment Tribunal cases for England, Wales and Scotland covering the period from April to December 2020.
During this time:-
- More than 60% of the Early Conciliations that Acas undertook did not proceed to the Employment Tribunal; and
- Where claims were raised after unsuccessful Early Conciliations, at least 77% of those claims did not have a hearing, meaning that they were likely settled.
For more information, please click here. link – https://www.acas.org.uk/about-us/service-statistics/early-conciliation-2020-2021
This note is not intended to substitute legal advice from your instructed lawyer. You should always consult with your lawyer directly regarding any specific queries you may have.