Statistical bulletin

Early conciliation and employment tribunal data for England, Scotland and Wales: April to June 2021

Published

1. Main points

  • Employee-led early conciliation (EC) notification volumes dropped again in April to June 2021, dropping each quarter in the 3 previous quarters.
  • Employer-led notifications increased slightly (1.3%) in April to June 2021 after falling for the previous 2 quarters.
  • More than 68% of EC notifications did not progress to employment tribunal during all quarters from July 2020 to June 2021.
  • Employment tribunal claim form (ET1) receipts dropped in April to June 2021, down 26% on the previous quarter.
  • At least 77% of employment tribunal cases received did not go on to have a hearing during from July 2020 to June 2021.

2. Early conciliation notifications

When an employee wants to make a claim against their employer at an employment tribunal, in most cases they must notify Acas first. Acas offers early conciliation to try to reach an agreement between the employee and employer and avoid the employee making a claim to an employment tribunal.

In some circumstances, the employer may approach Acas to help resolve a potential dispute. This can also be handled using early conciliation.

EC notifications can be made:

  • by an individual against their employer
  • on behalf of a group against their employer
  • by an employer where a dispute concerning staff requires resolution

Employee-led early conciliation notifications

More than 94% of all EC notifications came from employees across all quarters reported in this bulletin and has risen to 96% in the most recent 3 quarters. Employee‑led case numbers dropped 20% from October to December 2020 into January to March 2021, and dropped a further 11% in April to June 2021.

Fast track case numbers have declined across all 4 quarters from July 2020 to June 2021. Standard track case numbers dropped 29% from October to December 2020 into January to March 2021, and dropped a further 16% in April to June 2021. Over the quarters in this bulletin, the proportion of standard track cases has decreased except for a small increase in October to December 2020, while the proportion of open track cases has increased across all quarters.

The number of group cases were lowest in January to March 2021, increasing 66% in April to June 2021 to 846 cases. Despite the lower case numbers in January to March 2021, individuals involved in the groups was higher in this quarter than for the previous quarter and this rose again in April to June 2021.

Figure 1: Employee-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Line graph showing employee-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Note: Figure 1 is a visual representation of the data in Table 1.

Table 1: Employee-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Some shorthand is used in this table, [low] = a low figure but not a real zero.

Case type Track July to September 2020 October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021
Individual No track assigned 4,559 5,473 4,862 4,003
Fast track 10,371 7,927 6,074 5,823
Standard track 7,610 7,515 5,355 4,507
Open track 7,168 7,599 6,444 5,842
Total 29,708 28,514 22,735 20,175

Groups

No track assigned [low] 5 5 16
Fast track 396 197 172 170
Standard track 90 80 56 52
Open track 642 575 276 608
Total 1,128 857 509 846

Claimants within groups above

No track assigned 5,541 3,649 193 637
Fast track 7,951 1,553 18,489 3,644
Standard track 346 692 32 9,331
Open track 39,517 10,543 8,709 18,743
Total 53,355 16,437 27,423 32,355

Employer-led early conciliation notifications

Employer-led early conciliation notifications made up less than 4% of EC notifications in April to June 2021, a similar rate to the previous 2 quarters.

Standard track cases made up the majority of employer-led cases with more than 63% of cases being standard track across all 4 quarters. Case numbers rose in April to June 2021 from the lowest volume recorded in January to March 2021 but numbers only reached about half of those in July to September 2020.

Figure 2: Employer-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Line graph showing employer-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Note: Figure 2 is a visual representation of the data in Table 2.

Table 2: Employer-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Some shorthand is used in this table, [low] = a low figure but not a real zero.

Track July to September 2020 October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021
No track assigned 18 [low] [low] [low]
Fast track 145 135 161 92
Standard track 1,233 800 499 549
Open track 201 127 135 164
Total 1,597 1,062 795 805

3. Early conciliation notification outcomes

Some EC notifications are not suitable for conciliation and the service is not mandatory so some claimants will refuse the offer.

Early conciliation cases not progressed to conciliation

In April to June 2021, 25% of early conciliation cases were closed without parties engaging in early conciliation, up from 22% in January to March 2021. Across all 4 quarters, mainly cases with no track assigned did not progress to conciliation, making up at least 43% of all cases that did not progress to conciliation. These are where Acas has not been able to get in touch with the claimant to gather enough information to assign a track, so this is to be expected.

Fast track cases were the lowest proportion of the cases that did not progress to conciliation across all the quarters presented here except for July to September 2020 where open track cases made up the lowest proportion.

Figure 3: Early conciliation notifications that have not progressed to conciliation by track along with total conciliated case numbers per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Diagram showing early conciliation notifications that have not progressed to conciliation by track along with total conciliated case numbers per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Note: Figure 3 is a visual representation of the data in Table 3.

Table 3: Early conciliation notifications that have not progressed to conciliation by track along with total conciliated case numbers from July 2020 to June 2021

Track July to September 2020 October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021
No track assigned 3,550 4,107 3,704 3,448
Fast track 2,441 956 290 361
Standard track 1,211 1,315 838 836
Open track 1,007 1,245 647 568
Total not conciliated 8,209 7,623 5,479 5,213
Total closed 28,912 32,290 24,469 20,855
% 28% 24% 22% 25%

Settlement of early conciliation cases

Due to the potential time lag between an EC certificate being issued and the corresponding ET1 reaching Acas, these data cannot be accurately reported until after a period of time has elapsed and so are one quarter behind all the other statistics in this bulletin.

Almost 70% of cases did not lead to the submission of an ET1 throughout all quarters from April 2020 to March 2021 and this figure has stayed fairly stable throughout all 4 quarters. Of those with an assigned track, the fast track cases were most likely not to progress to ET1, although there were high rates across all the tracks, with at least 60% of cases not progressing to ET1 for all tracks.

Table 4: Early conciliation notifications outcomes from April 2020 to March 2021

Some shorthand is used in this table, [low] = a low figure but not a real zero.

Track Outcome April to June 2020 July to September 2020 October to December 2020 January to March 2021
No track assigned Settled by Acas [low] [low] [low] [low]
  ET1 avoided 3,010 3,223 3,981 3,265
  % did not progress to ET 80% 71% 73% 69%
Fast track Settled by Acas 1,235 1,384 1,258 1,381
  ET1 avoided 6,404 6,623 4,879 3,692
  % did not progress to ET 72% 75% 77% 79%
Standard track Settled by Acas 1,367 2,259 1,961 1,079
  ET1 avoided 2,472 3,882 3,772 2,667
  % did not progress to ET 64% 70% 69% 64%
Open track Settled by Acas 924 1,052 1,259 1,069
  ET1 avoided 3,256 3,820 4,176 2,875
  % did not progress to ET 62% 62% 67% 60%
Total Settled by Acas 3,526 4,695 4,478 3,529
  ET1 avoided 15,142 17,548 16,808 12,499
  % did not progress to ET 69% 70% 71% 68%

4. Employment tribunal claim form (ET1) receipts

If a case is not resolved by early conciliation, the claimant submits an ET1 form to make a claim to an employment tribunal. Conciliation can also be carried out at this stage to try to resolve the case without progressing to tribunal.

Employment tribunal claim form receipts dropped 26% in April to June 2021 from January to March 2021. The highest level of ET1 receipts was received in October to December 2020 with 10,359 cases. This was 56% higher than in April to June 2021, the lowest number received during the 4 quarters from July 2020 to June 2021. The highest proportion of ET1 receipts during all the quarters presented in this bulletin were open track cases, with fast track cases the lowest proportion.

Figure 4: Employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Line graph showing employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Note: Figure 4 is a visual representation of the data in Table 5.

Table 5: Employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from July 2020 to June 2021

Track July to September 2020 October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021
Fast track 2,266 2,339 1,873 1,492
Standard track 3,222 3,693 3,289 2,233
Open 4,085 4,327 3,833 2,899
Total 9,573 10,359 8,995 6,624

5. Employment tribunal claims outcomes

At least 77% of all employment tribunal cases did not progress to a tribunal hearing during all quarters presented here, and this figure stayed relatively stable throughout the year. Open track cases were most likely to not progress to a hearing with fast track cases most likely to progress to a hearing during all of the quarters presented in this bulletin. Acas settled more than 70% of the cases that did not progress to tribunal in each quarter, with the remaining ones withdrawing their case.

Table 6: Employment tribunal claims outcomes from July 2020 to June 2021

Track Outcome July to September 2020 October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021
Fast track Settled by Acas 655 793 995 1,326
Withdrawn 394 442 538 823
% did not have hearing 63% 66% 65% 67%
Standard track Settled by Acas 1,129 1,521 1,945 2,963
Withdrawn 400 420 586 960
% did not have hearing 81% 80% 76% 76%
Open track Settled by Acas 1,780 1,949 2,393 3,957
Withdrawn 532 566 767 1,380
% did not have hearing 91% 86% 85% 85%
Total Settled by Acas 3,564 4,263 5,333 8,246
Withdrawn 1,326 1,428 1,891 3,163
% did not have hearing 80% 79% 77% 78%

6. Glossary

Conciliation or conciliating

The process of negotiation when an Acas conciliator mediates between parties in an employment dispute to try and reach agreement without going to an employment tribunal.

Conciliator

A government official employed by Acas who mediates or conciliates between parties in an employment dispute.

Early conciliation (EC)

Acas service introduced in April 2014. Voluntary process of conciliating before a formal employment tribunal claim has been submitted with the aim of resolving the case. The prospective claimant submits an EC notification to Acas, usually online, and Acas will then offer them early conciliation.

EC notification

Submission to Acas (usually online) required to begin conciliation.

Employment tribunal (ET)

Court of law charged with hearing cases within employment jurisdictions, although cases with monetary value may be heard elsewhere.

ET1

Form used by claimants to make a claim to an employment tribunal. The form is copied to Acas to allow ET1 conciliation to proceed until either the dispute is resolved or a legal judgement is reached. It's free to submit an ET1.

ET1 avoided

Disputes that, at the time of publication, had led to an EC notification but an ET1 had not been submitted.

Post ET1 conciliation

Acas has a duty to attempt conciliation between the claimant and their employer once an ET1 has been submitted and passed to Acas. If a settlement can be reached or if the claimant agrees to withdraw their claim, the dispute is considered to be resolved. Otherwise it will proceed to an employment tribunal hearing.

Group case

Cases which have been grouped together for conciliation because they are against the same employer and relate to the same dispute. 'Claimants in groups' are the number of claimants represented by these group claims.

Jurisdiction

Legal classification of the type of dispute a claim is made about. One case may contain more than 1 jurisdiction. For example, an unfair dismissal claim may also contain a claim under the Wages Act for unpaid wages. This could be changed in an employment tribunal.

Live case

EC notifications or ET1s still going through the conciliation process.

Track

How Acas loosely classes the complexity of each case, based on the jurisdictions in the ET1 form, or the suggested jurisdictions assigned to EC notifications. The 4 tracks are:

  • fast track – straightforward cases mostly relating to money, such as unpaid wages
  • standard track – cases that are more complicated than fast track and involve unfair dismissal or a related jurisdiction
  • open track – the most legally complex cases with at least 1 type of discrimination or disclosure jurisdiction
  • no track assigned – cases where insufficient information is available to assign indicative jurisdictions (for example, where parties cannot be contacted)

7. Quality

More quality and methodology information on the:

  • strengths
  • limitations
  • appropriate uses
  • how the data were created

Find out more in the methodology article and background quality report.