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Early Conciliation Update 4: April 2014 - March 2015

Published 7 July 2015

Since 6 May 2014 anyone wishing to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal must first notify Acas, so that they can be offered an opportunity to resolve their dispute without the need to go to a tribunal.

This update provides information on the number of notifications received during the first year of operation. It covers the:

  • number of notifications received from employees and employers by Acas
  • proportion of employees and employers taking up the offer of conciliation
  • proportion of cases that are settled or that go on to an Employment Tribunal claim.

Table 1: EC notifications 6 April 2014 - 31 March 20151

EC
Notifications
QTR12QTR2QTR3QTR4Total
Employee
Notifications
16,61520,07022,22221,82780,734
Employer
Notifications
5397016617882,689
Total17,15420,77122,88322,61583,423

The number of notifications Acas received increased from approximately 1,000 per week during April and settled at around 1800 per week in the last six months of the year. Some of these notifications were made following legal decisions affecting the calculation of holiday pay. We received around 3,300 notifications covering over 14,000 individuals relating to this type of case between mid August 2014 and the end of March 2015.

Some notifications are made on behalf of a group of employees. Over 4,000 group notifications, covering more than 26,000 individuals are included in the total of 83,423 notifications shown in Table 1.3 This means that notifications covering over 100,000 disputes were received in the first year of operation.

Take up of Early Conciliation

Once a notification is made to Acas, the legal time limit within which the employee would need to bring a tribunal claim is extended by one month. This provides the parties with time to discuss options with the conciliator and try to reach an agreement. Acas has a legal duty to offer conciliation, but the parties do not have to accept it.

In most cases parties are willing to talk about the issues and this creates a better understanding of the dispute which helps resolve the matter either immediately or as the matter proceeds. The statistics show that relatively few people reject the offer of Early Conciliation. In the first year of operation, 8,504 (about 10.5%) of employees rejected the offer. Acas only contacts the employer if the employee has accepted conciliation and in these cases, 9,242 (11.4%) of employers rejected the offer of conciliation in the first year of operation.

Outcomes

Statistics on the outcome of cases become meaningful when all 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 have now reached an outcome, and these are set out in Table 2 below.

Settlements achieved through Acas can be formalised in a legal document known as a COT3 where the parties want this. However not all resolutions achieved during conciliation result in a COT3 because, for example.

  • After submitting their notification and having initial discussions with the conciliator, some employees decide not to take their matter further.
  • In some cases the agreement reached in conciliation is simply implemented by the employer without the need for the formality of a COT3 document.

Examination of conciliator case notes for the period October 2014 to March 2015 shows that in at least a further 10% of cases, Acas assisted the parties to reach an informal resolution via routes such as these.

Table 2: Outcome of Cases Notified April - December 2014

Outcome of Cases Notified April - December 20144NumberProportion (%)
COT3 Settlement9,30415
Did Not Progress to Tribunal Claim537,92563
Dispute Progressed to Tribunal Claim13,58522
Total60,814 

Of the 60,814 cases notified between April and December 2014, 15% (9,304) were settled by Acas and 22% (13,585) progressed to an Employment Tribunal claim.

For those that become tribunal cases Acas makes conciliation available, right up to the day of hearing if necessary, and so far 6882 of them (51%) have been resolved by Acas conciliators. This figure will continue to rise until all of these cases reach hearing date.

Evidence on the impact of the new Early Conciliation arrangements is developing as more cases go through the system and will continue to do so over the coming months. Further statistical information will be available in the Acas Annual Report for 2014-15 which is due to be published later this month. In addition Acas has undertaken an evaluation of the service in order to gain feedback and support continuous improvement. The evaluation findings which are now published provide information about customer experience and the factors influencing decision-making by those involved.

Research paper on evaluation of satisfaction rate of users of Early Conciliation

Download the pdf  Evaluation of Acas Early Conciliation 2015 [2Mb] paper.

Notes:

  1. There are some minor differences between the figures reported and those reported in the previous Quarterly updates. All the figures reported in these updates are subject to small changes reflecting the process of finalising management information during the operational year.
  2. In April 2014 the service was available on a voluntary basis only.
  3. A quarterly breakdown of group notifications is also available.
  4. In order for these statistics to accurately represent the final outcome of Early Conciliation cases it is necessary to allow a period of time after the notification is received as claimants have time (sometimes up to four and a half months) after their notification to decide whether to progress the case to tribunal. This table is therefore restricted to notifications received up until the end of the third quarter of the operational year.
  5. It is possible that a small number of these cases might still progress to Tribunal or be settled by Acas. These should therefore be regarded as provisional figures but any future revisions are expected to be small.