Employment Law | Early Conciliation Legislation Published

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (Commencement No. 5, Transitional Provisions and Savings) Order 2014 has been published, confirming that the provisions in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 relating to Acas early conciliation for employment claims and the financial penalty regime will both come into force on 6 April 2014.

From April, anyone thinking of making an employment tribunal claim will need to notify Acas first and supply their name and address and that of the potential respondent either by phone or by completing a simple form.

From that date, Acas will offer a new free service called Early Conciliation to try to resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action. This will allow an extra month to attempt to resolve the dispute before people hit the deadline for making their claim. There will also be a maximum two-week extension, during which an Acas conciliation officer must “endeavour to promote a settlement”.

However, if at any stage in this process, the conciliation officer concludes that a settlement cannot be reached, they must issue an early conciliation certificate.

This can include a situation where Acas is unable to make contact with the potential claimant or respondent after making “reasonable attempts” to do so. The conciliation period ends once the potential claimant has received this certificate.

According to Acas, Early Conciliation will save employers and employees the stress, cost and anxiety of facing an employment tribunal. It will also save taxpayers some of the cost of running the tribunal system, estimated to be on average £2,700 per employer in management time and legal costs.

In addition, it is likely that the average time to complete an Early Conciliation case will be just 23 days compared to the months that a tribunal case can take. However, if this method does not resolve the dispute then the claimant will be able to lodge a tribunal claim.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London