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Resolving workplace disputes

Monday 21 November 2011

The Government has announced plans for Acas to provide an early conciliation service to help prevent workplace disputes going to an employment tribunal.

This means that in future almost all potential employment tribunal claims will be offered Early Conciliation with Acas. Acas will be building on its pre claim conciliation service which will become a more formal part of the dispute resolution system.

Under the new system anyone intending to make an employment tribunal claim would need to notify Acas of this in the first instance rather than the Tribunals Service. Acas would then have a specified time period (up to one month) to provide conciliation. If this didn't resolve the matter a claim to a tribunal could then continue. Acas conciliation would remain available up to the point of submitting a claim to the tribunal and as now at the post claim stage.

Pre claim conciliation is currently available for appropriate cases via the Acas helpline.

What are the benefits of Pre Claim Conciliation?

In 2010 independent research found that when staff time and legal costs are factored in, businesses who resolve disputes through the service save £3,700 on average, compared to costs involved once an employment tribunal claim has been made. And employees save on average nearly £1,300 when resolving a PCC case compared with dealing with an employment tribunal claim.

The existing service was introduced in April 2009 and since then Acas has helped 38,000 employers and employers avoid an employment tribunal. The proportion of completed cases in which no subsequent claim was made to an employment tribunal rose from 70% in 2009/10 to 74% in 2010/11.

What is Acas doing in preparation?

The Government's announcement means significant changes to the work of our experienced team of conciliators, systems and processes. And over the coming months we will be focussing on designing how the system is going to work in practice.

The Government recognises that there will be an increased demand on Acas resources which will require additional funding. We will be working closely with BIS, our sponsor Department, to finalise details over the coming months.

The new service not expected to be launched until April 2014.

Find out more about Acas' pre claim conciliation service.