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Pre-Claim Conciliation could save employers years at a tribunal

Few employers or employees need telling that it's usually better to try to resolve a dispute without having to seek a judgement from an employment tribunal. Most are aware of the extra cost and stress involved with taking a claim to a tribunal, but some might be surprised to learn just how long the process can last.

Figures recently released by the Ministry of Justice show that some tribunal cases rumble on for many weeks and sometimes last several years. This is particularly true for multiple claims, when a number of claims arise out of the same or similar circumstances.

From the time the claim is submitted to the date of the final judgement, excluding those withdrawn or settled, the average case completed between July and September 2012 had lasted for 84 weeks, more than a year and half.

Multiple claims, which can have 'stays' or may await decisions from Higher Courts, were even longer, taking an average of 144 weeks over the same period. By comparison, single cases were relatively swiftly dealt with, averaging 29 weeks.

Certain types of claims were notably lengthy. Those involving equal pay took on average 214 weeks to resolve, more than four years. A quarter of equal pay cases had gone on for more than five years. Race or sexual discrimination cases were the next most time-consuming at 148 weeks, nearly three years. Claims surrounding the National Minimum Wage were the fastest to process, taking on average 28 weeks to resolve.

If an employee feels likely to make a claim, either an employee or employer can ask for an Acas conciliator to try to reach an agreement without the need to go to a tribunal. This is called Pre-Claim Conciliation.

Acas also provides extensive training in Conflict management skills to improve workplace relations.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions area for more information.

If you need advice and guidance on how to resolve any disputes in your organisation, call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100.

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