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Four thousand people try Acas' new Early Conciliation service since launch

Tuesday 06 May 2014

From today, anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim must contact Acas first. Acas will then try and resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action through its new free service called Early Conciliation, which was launched on 6 April 2014.

Acas' free early dispute resolution service saves employers and employees the stress, cost and anxiety associated with the tribunal process and has already had a successful start:

  • Around 1000 people have contacted Acas about Early Conciliation every week since its launch;
  • 98 per cent of those who have contacted Acas about Early Conciliation have decided to try the service;
  • Even though there is an initial one month period for settling a claim, Acas' first Early Conciliation case was settled within 24 hours; and
  • 100 employers have contacted Acas to try Early Conciliation.

Acas Chair, Sir Brendan Barber, said:

"Early Conciliation has got off to a very good start and has given us the chance to help more people resolve their disputes early as well as save taxpayers some of the cost of running the tribunal system.

"The public have repeatedly told us how much they value the skills and experience of our conciliation staff. It is thanks to their professionalism and hard work that so many people have decided to try Early Conciliation since its launch on 6 April."

Early Conciliation is built on the success of a similar optional service that Acas used to run called Pre Claim Conciliation (PCC). The service dealt with around 20,000 cases a year and over three-quarters of these were resolved in a way that did not lead on to a tribunal claim. Pre Claim Conciliation became Early Conciliation on 6 April 2014.

An analysis last month found that for every pound spent on PCC, at least five pounds was returned to the economy, which translated to a benefit of nearly £19 million for the first complete year that PCC had been running since its launch in 2009. An evaluation of PCC and Acas' individual conciliation service released last year showed that:

  • Nearly nine out of ten employers who used PCC said that they would use it again; 
  • two thirds of employees would advise a friend or relative to use PCC if they were involved in a similar dispute; 
  • eight out of ten users said that Acas was important in helping to resolve their dispute; 
  • service users reported that PCC was cheaper, easier or more convenient, less traumatic or stressful and resolved their issue more quickly than submitting an employment tribunal claim; 
  • eight out of ten respondents said that their conciliator did not take sides and was even handed; and 
  • a fifth of employers reported that Acas had provided them with information or advice that they thought would help them to avoid a similar claim in the future. The same proportion also said that they had made a change to their policies or procedures as a consequence of the guidance received from the Acas conciliator.

If Early Conciliation doesn't resolve the dispute then the claimant will still be able to lodge a tribunal claim.

For more information see Early Conciliation.

Notes to editors

  1. Early Conciliation was launched on 6 April 2014. Today marks the end of the transitional month and anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim now must contact Acas first. Acas will then try and resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action through its new free service called Early Conciliation.
  2. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced that Acas would provide a new Early Conciliation service from April 2014 as part of the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation in November 2011. The government took measures through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to provide for this.
  3. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. We aim to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. We help with employment relations by supplying up-to-date information, independent advice and high quality training, and working with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law. For more information, see About us.
  4. The Acas helpline - 0300 123 1100 - is available from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays. Advice is free and confidential so callers do not have to give their names. Research commissioned by Acas and available at Acas Helpline, found over nine out of ten employers (96 per cent) who call the Acas helpline would recommend it to a colleague.
  5. The independent analysis 'Measuring the Value and Impacts of Acas' can be found at Research papers. It found that based on service volumes from the 2010/11 financial year and the most recent survey data available, for every pound invested in Acas' Pre Claim Conciliation service, at least five pounds is contributed to the economy, which translates to a net benefit of £18.6m. At least £12 is contributed to the economy for every £1 invested in Acas, which translates to a total net benefit of £621m. For an embargoed copy of the report, please contact the Acas press office.
  6. The independent report 'Evaluation of Acas' Pre-Claim Conciliation Service 2012' was carried out by TNS BMRB between 21 November 2012 and 8 February 2013. A total of 476 people took part in the survey.
  7. The independent report 'Acas Individual Conciliation Survey 2012' was carried out by TNS BMRB with Individual Conciliation cases cleared between July and October 2012. 2625 people took part in the survey.
  8. An infographic, flowchart and youtube video of Acas Conciliator Andrew Cowler explaining how Early Conciliation will work is available at Early Conciliation.
  9. Raw unpackaged film footage that demonstrates a scenario of how EC will work in practice is available for broadcasters to use and develop for their own packages. This also includes a separate Q&A from Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber on Early Conciliation that can be clipped for sound bites. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact Shumon Rahman on 0207 210 3688. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.