Many issues which may lead to disputes can be resolved informally in the workplace between the individual and their immediate line manager. It is Acas' advice that issues are best dealt with as early as possible. Internal procedures should be in place to deal with more difficult cases, and Acas can provide you with advice about model policies and procedures to help you avoid difficulties. Contact our Helpline on 0300 123 1100 or see our Advice A-Z for more information.
However, sometimes these issues escalate and they can become formal legal claims. In these circumstances people must first notify Acas before they lodge an Employment Tribunal claim, and we will offer Early Conciliation to try to help. Reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing.
Conciliation is offered to both sides with the aim of settling the matter without the need to attend a hearing. It's voluntary, and both parties must agree to the process. Further information is available about our statutory duty to conciliate before a person can lodge an Employment Tribunal claim from our Early Conciliation page.
Acas offers Early Conciliation before an Employment Tribunal claim has been lodged. Even if Early Conciliation is not successful we can conciliate right up to the date of the Employment Tribunal hearing if it is wanted. Wherever possible, we will ensure that the same professional, independent and impartial conciliator is involved in the case.
Conciliation involves an independent Acas conciliator discussing the issues with both parties in order to help them reach a better understanding of each other's position and underlying interest. The impartial conciliator tries to encourage the parties in dispute to come to an agreement between themselves, and so avoid the stress and expense of contesting the issue in tribunal.
You can find out more in our Acas conciliation services Q&A.
What sort of issues cause disputes? - Acas' Chief Conciliator Peter Harwood talks about the service.
Collective conciliation - resolving workplace disputes is a specific term used to refer to talks between representative groups (often trades union) and employers, facilitated by an independent third party. Acas is often brought in to provide conciliation services for this type of situation.