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First year of Acas' Early Conciliation is a success with high take up and satisfaction rates

Tuesday 07 July 2015

Workplace expert Acas has published reports on its first year of Early Conciliation (EC), which show that.

  • Acas has dealt with over 83,000 EC cases between April 2014 and March 2015
  • Three out of four employees and employers agreed to try EC in its first year of operation
  • Eight out of ten people who took part in EC were satisfied with the service they received from Acas.

The law changed last year so that anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim has to notify Acas first. Acas then tries to resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action through its free Early Conciliation service.

Early Conciliation - 1 year on Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser windowNew Acas statistics for EC notifications received between April and December show that 63% did not proceed to a tribunal claim, a further 15% resulted in a formal settlement (known as a COT3) and 22% progressed to a tribunal claim.

Acas conciliation is still available after a tribunal claim has been lodged until the court date. More than half (51%) of the 22% of cases that progressed to a tribunal claim have now been resolved by Acas.

Acas Chief Executive Anne Sharp said:

"Early Conciliation has given Acas conciliators the opportunity to do what they do best - to use a tried and trusted approach that helps save claimants and employers the cost, time and stress of an Employment Tribunal.

"I'm pleased to see the high levels of satisfaction from both employers and individuals who have used the service. Over eight out of ten people who used the service said they would definitely use it again which is testament to the professionalism and expertise of our conciliation staff."

Independent new research published today, found that over 80% of participants in EC were satisfied with the service they received from Acas. The majority of those surveyed said they would use Early Conciliation again if they were involved in a similar situation in the future (84% of claimants and 87% of employers), with responses over 90% for representatives for each group.

The research found that nearly half of all claimants (48%) who used EC either reached a formal settlement or were otherwise helped by Acas to avoid a tribunal claim.

Other findings from the research include:

  • Early conciliation saved claimants and employers time, compared to going to Tribunal. Claimants spent six hours on their dispute on average, compared to six days spent on disputes during employment tribunal cases. Among employers, the average amount of time spent on a dispute was five hours compared to five days for employment tribunal cases.
  • 96% of claimants and their representatives who agreed a financial sum as part of their settlement confirmed that it had been paid; this compares favourably to claimants given a financial award at tribunal, where nearly two thirds (63%) said that they had received their payment.
  • Among claimants and their representatives who could not settle their case through EC and did not go to tribunal,  around a quarter (26%) said that their reason for not then lodging a tribunal claim was that tribunal fees were off putting. One in five (20%) said that their reason for not putting in a claim was that their issue was resolved.
  • Claimants and their representatives who declined EC said this was due to their issue being resolved when Acas assistance was offered, or that they felt that conciliation would not resolve their issue, or they felt that their employer would not be willing to engage'. Over half of employers and their representatives who declined EC said it was because they felt they had no case to answer.

The EC research report Acas Conciliation for Individual Dispute Resolution: Evaluation of Early Conciliation 2014/15 is available at Research papers.

A second stage of the EC research will explore what happens to those claimants who go on to lodge a claim with the Tribunal, and the impact of Acas Conciliation on their next steps. Full results will be available later this year.

The latest Early Conciliation statistical update is available at EC update.

Notes to editors

  1. An infographic, flowchart and YouTube video of Acas Conciliator Andrew Cowler explaining how Early Conciliation works is available at Early Conciliation.
  2. The EC research was based on a representative survey of claimants, employers and representatives whose EC cases concluded September - November 2014; 1,337 claimant-side interviews and 1,255 employer-side interviews were conducted. The research was undertaken on behalf of Acas by the independent social research agency TNS BMRB.
  3. EC survey research showed that of those claimants who did not reach an Acas COT3 settlement but nevertheless decided not to submit an ET claim, 61% said that Acas was a factor in helping them to reach this conclusion. When combined with those claimants who reached a settlement through EC, the overall 'avoidance rate' is 48% ie nearly half of all claimants who use EC either settle with Acas or else decide against claiming due to Acas.
  4. The EC research asked claimants (and their representatives) who did not settle at EC and who had not submitted a tribunal claim and did not have an intention to do so (a subgroup of 524 claimants/reps) why they had decided against claiming. The most frequently mentioned reason for not going on to lodge an ET claim was that tribunal fees were off putting, which was reported by one quarter (26%) of this sub-group.
  5. The 'average' amount of time spent on cases refers to the 'median' amount of time spent of cases.
  6. Statistical data on employment tribunal applications and awards can be viewed from GOV.UK - Survey of employment tribunal applications 2013.
  7. The EC research found that 96% of claimants and their representatives who received a financial sum as part of their EC settlement confirmed that it had been paid. This reflects research published earlier this year which showed an identical finding for Acas-conciliated settlements prior to the introduction of EC - pdf  Payment of Acas Conciliated Settlements [808kb].
  8. Statistics on the outcome of Early Conciliation cases become meaningful when the cases received during a period have had time to reach a final outcome. Almost all of the notifications received by Acas in the first nine months (April and December 2014) have now reached an outcome but it is too early to give an update on final outcomes for cases received between January 2015 and March 2015.
  9. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  10. For media enquiries contact Shumon Ali-Rahman on 0207 210 3688 or For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.