The free, fast and less stressful alternative to an employment tribunal for resolving workplace disputes
If you are going to make a claim to an employment tribunal you must notify Acas first. We will offer you the chance to use Early Conciliation - an opportunity to settle workplace disputes without going to court.
At Acas, our advice is always that it is best for employers and employees to resolve disputes as early as possible. So, your first step should be to consider using your organisation's appeals or grievance procedure if they have one, or to let it run its course if you're already using it.
Our Helpline can discuss your situation with you, including giving advice on completing internal processes before you formally notify us that you are going to make a tribunal claim, as long as time limits allow for this. It can be frustrating all round if you find that you've put your notification in too early, so you can speak to an Acas Helpline Adviser about it on 0300 123 1100.
Where you can't sort things out direct with your employer, reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing.
The Early Conciliation process
The first step is to notify Acas by completing the Early Conciliation notification form. This form was updated on 15 January to reflect feedback from stakeholders and users.
What happens next?
After you have submitted your form it will be automatically acknowledged, by email if you have an email account, or by post if not. This acknowledgement is a record of your submission and includes the details you provided - your name, the name of the organisation or person you want to make a tribunal claim against and the date and method of submission. This means that you don't need a screenshot of your form or to send in a hard copy form to retain these details because your acknowledgement provides this for you.
Acas will then aim to contact you within two working days, occasionally longer at times of peak demand. We will briefly explain Early Conciliation and ask you some basic questions about your claim. This might cause you to reconsider or we might conclude that we can't help. In most cases however your claim is passed to an Acas conciliator. They can talk to you (or someone on your behalf) and someone from or on behalf of the organisation you're intending to take to tribunal. Their job is to talk through the issues with you both to see if a solution can be found.
Watch Acas conciliator Andrew Cowler talk about Early Conciliation
Early Conciliation explained leaflet [128kb]
Read about how you can use Early Conciliation, how it works, how it can help, how long it can last and what happens if agreement can't be reached.
Early Conciliation flowchart [17kb]
See how Early Conciliation the process works.
Acas conciliation services Q&A
Questions and Answers about conciliation and how it works.
Early Conciliation infographic (left)
See how much time and money can be saved by considering conciliation as an alternative to the Employment Tribunal.
The Acas Blog
Read Acas discussion and commentary on the introduction of Early Conciliation in our recent blog posts.
What are the benefits of Early Conciliation?
Read our Early Conciliation explained leaflet [128kb] for full information on the benefits of using Acas' Early Conciliation service.
What type of issues can Early Conciliation help resolve?
Early Conciliation can help resolve the majority of workplace disputes which may lead to an employment tribunal, including:
- unfair dismissal claims
- workplace discrimination
- redundancy payments or disputes around selection procedures
- deductions from wages or unpaid notice/holiday pay
- rights to time off or flexible working
- equal pay.
Anybody who wishes to lodge a claim with an Employment Tribunal will have to provide an Acas Early Conciliation Reference Number.
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Acas e-newsletter for employers
Employers can keep up-to-date with Early Conciliation and other Acas services via our popular e-newsletters. Sign up for Acas news and notifications.
Also if you work for a trade union we will be including updates on Early Conciliation in our Trade Union update. Sign up for the free Acas Trade Union e-newsletter and other Acas news.
Other dispute resolution and advisory services available from Acas
Related Acas press releases and media coverage on Early Conciliation
- Acas expertise crucial to success of Early Conciliation
- Legislation finalised to support launch of Early Conciliation
- Positive results from Acas research support the launch of Early Conciliation service
- Zero hours, pay and early conciliation set to be key workplace issues for 2014, says Acas Chief Exec
- CIPD - Chief executive of Acas, Anne Sharp, on how to stay out of tribunals
- Pay and Benefits - Q&A With Anne Sharp on Early Conciliation
- Public Sector Executive - Early Conciliation
- The Law Society Gazette - 'Seismic' changes for employment lawyers