Statistical bulletin

Early conciliation and employment tribunal data for England, Scotland and Wales: July to September 2021

Published

1. Main points

  • Employee-led early conciliation (EC) notification volumes increased in July to September 2021 to the highest level of all the previous 3 quarters.
  • Employer-led notifications decreased slightly (2.4%) in July to September 2021 and has remained low for 3 quarters, taking the proportion of employee-led notifications down below 3% of all notifications.
  • More than 68% of EC notifications did not progress to employment tribunal during all quarters from October 2020 to September 2021.
  • Employment tribunal claim form (ET1) receipts remained low in July to September 2021, staying at a similar level to the previous quarter, but down 26% on January to March 2021.
  • At least 76% of employment tribunal cases received did not go on to have a hearing during all quarters from October 2020 to September 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 96% of all EC notifications came from employees across all quarters reported in this bulletin and has risen to 97% in the most recent quarter. 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 but then increased by 42% in July to September 2021.

Across the 4 quarters from October 2020 to September 2021, the proportion of open track cases has increased slowly across all the 4 quarters, and the proportion of fast track cases has risen during the most recent 2 quarters to make up 31.2% of cases in July to September 2021. Conversely, the proportion of standard track cases has decreased across all quarters from October 2020 to September 2021 to make up just 20.9% of cases in July to September 2021 compared to 26.4% of cases in October to December 2020.

The number of group cases has remained fairly consistent across the quarters from October 2020 to September 2021, with a small decrease in January to March 2021. Despite the number of group cases remaining fairly consistent from the last quarter into July to September 2021, the number of claimants within groups has decreased by almost 60% in July to September 2021 compared to the previous quarter, falling to a low for all quarters.

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

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

Case type Track October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021
Individual No track assigned 5,473 4,862 4,003 5,256
Fast track 7,927 6,074 5,823 8,914
Standard track 7,515 5,355 4,507 5,988
Open track 7,599 6,444 5,842 8,428
Total 28,514 22,735 20,175 28,586

Groups

No track assigned 5 5 16 16
Fast track 197 172 170 201
Standard track 80 56 52 121
Open track 575 276 608 455
Total 857 509 846 793

Claimants within groups above

No track assigned 3,649 193 637 432
Fast track 1,553 18,489 3,644 252
Standard track 692 32 9,331 140
Open track 10,543 8,709 18,743 12,298
Total 16,437 27,423 32,355 13,122

Employer-led early conciliation notifications

Employer-led early conciliation notifications made up less than 3% of EC notifications in July to September 2021, dropping slightly from the previous 3 quarters.

Standard track cases made up the majority of employer-led cases with more than 62% of cases being standard track across all 4 quarters from October 2020 to September 2021. The proportion of open track cases has increased from just 12% in October to December 2020 to 23% in July to September 2021. Case numbers fell again in July to September 2021 to the lowest volume recorded for all quarters.

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

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

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

Track October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021
No track assigned [low] [low] [low] [low]
Fast track 135 161 92 117
Standard track 800 499 549 491
Open track 127 135 164 177
Total 1,062 795 805 785

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 July to September 2021, 24% of early conciliation cases were closed without parties engaging in early conciliation, remaining fairly constant from the previous quarter at 25%. Across all 4 quarters, mainly cases with no track assigned did not progress to conciliation, making up more than 50% 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 2021 where open track cases made up the lowest proportion. Of cases with an assigned track, standard track cases made up the highest proportion of cases that were not conciliated across all quarters.

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

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

Track October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021
No track assigned 4,107 3,704 3,448 3,504
Fast track 956 290 361 509
Standard track 1,315 838 836 769
Open track 1,245 647 568 438
Total not conciliated 7,623 5,479 5,213 5,220
Total closed 32,290 24,469 20,855 21,973
% 24% 22% 25% 24%

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 1 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 October 2020 to September 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 July 2020 to June 2021

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

Track Outcome July to September 2020 October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021
No track assigned Settled by Acas [low] [low] [low] [low]
  ET1 avoided 3,223 3,981 3,265 2,715
  % did not progress to ET 71% 73% 69% 69%
Fast track Settled by Acas 1,384 1,258 1,381 1,178
  ET1 avoided 6,623 4,879 3,692 3,716
  % did not progress to ET 75% 77% 79% 80%
Standard track Settled by Acas 2,259 1,961 1,079 907
  ET1 avoided 3,882 3,772 2,667 2,051
  % did not progress to ET 70% 69% 64% 65%
Open track Settled by Acas 1,052 1,259 1,069 979
  ET1 avoided 3,820 4,176 2,875 2,821
  % did not progress to ET 62% 67% 60% 63%
Total Settled by Acas 4,695 4,478 3,529 3,064
  ET1 avoided 17,548 16,808 12,499 11,303
  % did not progress to ET 70% 71% 68% 70%

4. Employment tribunal claim form (ET1) receipts

Settlement of early conciliation cases

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 remained fairly constant in July to September 2021 compared to April to June 2021 after falling 26% from the previous quarter and 13% the quarter before that. The highest level of ET1 receipts was received in October to December 2020 with 10,359 cases. The highest proportion of ET1 receipts during all the quarters from October 2020 to September 2021 were open track cases, making up more than 40% of all cases, with fast track cases the lowest proportion at 25% or under of all cases received during all the quarters.

Figure 4: Employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from October 2020 to September 2021

Line graph showing employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from October 2020 to September 2021

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

Table 5: Employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from October 2020 to September 2021

Track October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021
Fast track 2,339 1,873 1,492 1,672
Standard track 3,693 3,289 2,233 1,963
Open track 4,327 3,833 2,899 3,046
Total 10,359 8,995 6,624 6,681

5. Employment tribunal claims outcomes

At least 76% 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 4 quarters. 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 around 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 October 2020 to September 2021

Track Outcome October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021
Fast track Settled by Acas 793 995 1,326 1,258
Withdrawn 442 538 823 836
% did not have hearing 66% 65% 67% 62%
Standard track Settled by Acas 1,521 1,945 2,963 2,488
Withdrawn 420 586 960 954
% did not have hearing 80% 76% 76% 75%
Open track Settled by Acas 1,949 2,393 3,957 3,691
Withdrawn 566 767 1,380 1,523
% did not have hearing 86% 85% 85% 86%
Total Settled by Acas 4,263 5,333 8,246 7,437
Withdrawn 1,428 1,891 3,163 3,313
% did not have hearing 79% 77% 78% 76%

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 reports.