Commencing the ACAS pre-claim process for employment tribunals
Commencing the ACAS pre-claim process
In order to begin the ACAS conciliation process, you need to visit the ACAS website (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) and fill in an ‘Early Conciliation Notification Form’.
What is the purpose of this form?
The purpose of the early conciliation process is to enable an independent person (an ACAS Conciliator) to act as a mediator between employee and employer and to try to broker a settlement before a full application to an employment tribunal is required. Usually this process involves the ACAS conciliator relaying information between the parties or the parties’ legal representatives.
How long is the period of conciliation?
The initial period for conciliation is one month, although that period can be extended by 14 days if both parties agree to the extensions. If the dispute is not resolved within this time-period then the ACAS Conciliator will issue a certificate to the employee that the process has been completed, and the employee will then have one full calendar month from the date of the certificate to file an employment tribunal claim.
Are there exceptions?
The only exception to this is when an employee commences Pre-Claim Conciliation with more than one month left on the usual limitation period, in which case the effect of Pre-Claim Conciliation is that the clock stops and the employee then has remainder of the original time-period to file the claim. That said, in order to avoid any confusion, our recommendation is to make a claim at most one month from the end of ACAS Pre-Claim Conciliation.
Do I need a lawyer?
It is a common misconception that if you are going through ACAS, then you do not need a lawyer, because ACAS will settle your case out of court for you. This is not what happens in practice. ACAS conciliators do a sterling job for employees but they are not lawyers themselves. They also have a large caseload and no real incentive to get the best possible deal for you – they are incentivised to simply settle cases, regardless of settlement amount.
This means that ACAS conciliators often act as a go between whereby they will shuttle back and forth delivering offers and counter offers to the 2 parties. What they will not do however is to take detailed instructions from you, advise you regarding strategy and tactics, or put together a hard hitting legal letter on your behalf. They are very much neutral and in no way are they as good for you as having a lawyer to represent you.