Acas has a legal duty to offer free conciliation where a complaint about employment rights has been made to an employment tribunal, and a power to provide conciliation where a claim could be made, but hasn't yet been so. Download the Conciliation and tribunals [81kb] note that describes the criteria our conciliators will use to decide whether they can exercise the power to conciliate in cases where no tribunal claim has yet been made.
Our role is to help find a solution that both sides find acceptable instead of going to a tribunal hearing. We don't impose solutions, but will try to help you settle your differences on your own terms. This process is known as conciliation. It's essentially the same process as mediation, but conciliation is the term that tends to be used if an employee is making a specific complaint against their employer.
Acas conciliation: voluntary, independent, confidential
Our free conciliation service is voluntary: you only take part if you want to and you can stop at any time - and impartial: we won't take sides or judge who's right or wrong. It's also independent, as we're not part of the Employment Tribunal Service. It doesn't delay the tribunal process, nor can it be used as evidence against you at a tribunal hearing, as it's completely confidential. Nothing you tell us will be passed on to anyone else unless you agree and nothing said can be used in any later company procedures or court action. Conciliation will continue to be available until all matters of liability and remedy have been determined by the employment tribunal.
See our Guidance on the Acas conciliation service page for more information. To find out more about how we can help you through early conciliation, go to our page on Pre-claim conciliation - a free Acas service.
Introduction of the Early conciliation bill
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill Makes changes to the employment tribunal process, including providing for prospective claimants to contact Acas before they can begin certain types of employment tribunal proceedings.
This is so that parties can be offered conciliation to attempt to resolve their dispute outside the tribunal system, and introduces a series of reforms to streamline the existing system and encourage employer compliance.
It will include a new discretionary power for an employment tribunal to impose a financial penalty on an employer found to have breached an individual's rights in order to encourage greater compliance with employment obligations.
Further information on the progress of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill is available from UK Parliament - Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13.
Acas conciliation Q&A
You can read a list of Acas conciliation services Q&A.
Other information sources
Citizens Advice Bureau solicitors and Law Centres can give help and advice on all matters concerned with employment rights. Trade unions and employers' associations may be able to give assistance to their members.
Equality Direct can give employers free advice and information on equality legislation and good practice. The service covers England at present.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission can give free help and advice on discrimination matters.
Can Acas help you?
You can find out more about free Acas conciliation and whether its available for your situation by contacting our Regional offices and national teams.