The better way to resolve workplace disputes
Acas' advice is that it is always best to resolve workplace disputes as early as possible. You should always use your organisation's appeals or grievance procedure, if they have one, to try to resolve the dispute. It is important to remember, however, that there are time limits for making a claim to the employment tribunal. Make sure you know your deadline for making a tribunal claim. The Acas Helpline can give advice on internal processes and policies to help you through this (0300 123 1100).
If you can't sort things out directly with your employer, you must notify Acas of your intention to lodge an employment tribunal claim, and we will offer you the opportunity to use Early Conciliation. Most people and their employers want to take part in Early Conciliation to settle their workplace dispute without going to court. Acas Early Conciliation is open to everybody, although in certain situations you may not need to notify us before lodging your tribunal claim (see exemptions).
Reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing.
Find out more about how Acas can help you resolve your dispute in Conciliation explained [120kb].
The Early Conciliation process
After you have submitted the Early Conciliation notification form you will receive an acknowledgement, confirming all the details you have provided - this is a formal record of your submission. Please keep this email (or letter, if you do not have an email account).
Acas will aim to contact you within two working days (although this can take longer at peak times). We will go through the information you have provided, ask more questions about your claim and explain the process of early conciliation. If you are happy to take part in Early Conciliation, and we think we can help, your claim will be passed to an Acas conciliator. The conciliator will talk through the issues with you, or your representative, and the organisation you're intending to claim against to see if a resolution can be found.
To start Early Conciliation complete the Early Conciliation notification form.
More information about what the conciliator can and cannot do is available in Conciliation explained [120kb].
Watch Acas conciliator Andrew Cowler talk about Early Conciliation
Flowchart and infographic
Research paper - Survey of users of EC
Download the Evaluation of Acas Early Conciliation 2015 [2Mb] paper.