Statistical bulletin

Early conciliation and employment tribunal data for England, Scotland and Wales: October to December 2021

Published

1. Main points

  • Employee-led early conciliation (EC) notification numbers dropped in October to December 2021, falling by 16%.
  • Employer-led notifications dropped slightly (5%) in October to December 2021 and has remained relatively stable for 4 quarters.
  • More than 68% of EC notifications did not progress to employment tribunal during all quarters from January 2021 to December 2021.
  • Employment tribunal claim form (ET1) receipts increased in October to December 2021 by 8.8% compared to the previous quarter.
  • At least 70% of employment tribunal cases received did not go on to have a hearing during all quarters from January 2021 to December 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 from January 2021 to December 2021 and has remained at 97% for the 2 most recent quarters. Employee‑led case numbers dropped by 15.9% in October to December 2021 from a maximum for these 4 quarters in July to September of 28,586 cases down to 24,033.

The proportion of open track cases has increased slowly across all the 4 quarters from January 2021 to December 2021.The proportion of fast track cases has dropped slightly (0.7%) in October to December 2021. The proportion of standard track cases has increased from 20.9% in July to September 2021 to 21.5% in October to December 2021.

The number of group cases dropped in October to December 2021 by 34.2%. The number of claimants within groups has also decreased by 54.8% compared to the previous quarter. It has fallen to a low for all quarters from January 2021 to December 2021, being less than half of the next lowest number.

Figure 1: Employee-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from January to December 2021

Line graph showing employee-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from January 2021 to December 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 January to December 2021

Case type Track January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021 October to December 2021
Individual No track assigned 4,862 4,003 5,256 4,351
Fast track 6,074 5,823 8,914 7,328
Standard track 5,355 4,507 5,988 5,157
Open track 6,444 5,842 8,428 7,197
Total 22,735 20,175 28,586 24,033

Groups

No track assigned 5 16 16 20
Fast track 172 170 201 168
Standard track 56 52 121 106
Open track 276 608 455 228
Total 509 846 793 522

Claimants within groups above

No track assigned 193 637 432 349
Fast track 18,489 3,644 252 427
Standard track 32 9,331 140 345
Open track 8,709 18,743 12,298 4,814
Total 27,423 32,355 13,122 5,935

Employer-led early conciliation notifications

Employer-led early conciliation notifications made up around 3% of EC notifications in October to December 2021, increasing slightly from the previous quarter where employer-led notifications made up slightly under 3%.

Standard track cases made up most of the employer-led cases with more than 59% of cases being standard track across all 4 quarters. The proportion of open track cases has increased to 26.5% in October to December 2021, increasing across all quarters in this bulletin from just 17% of cases in January to March 2021. Case numbers fell again in October to December 2021 to a minimum for all quarters from January 2021 to December 2021.

Figure 2: Employer-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from January to December 2021

Line graph showing employer-led individual early conciliation cases by track per quarter from January 2021 to December 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 January to December 2021

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

Track January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021 October to December 2021
No track assigned [low] [low] [low] [low]
Fast track 161 92 117 103
Standard track 499 549 491 445
Open track 135 164 177 198
Total 795 805 785 746

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 October to December 2021, 26% of early conciliation cases were closed without parties engaging in early conciliation, remaining close to the previous quarter at 24%. Across all 4 quarters, mainly cases with no track assigned did not progress to conciliation, making up more than 66% 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.

Open track cases made up the lowest proportion of cases that did not progress to conciliation for the most recent 2 quarters. Of cases with an assigned track, standard track cases made up the highest proportion of cases that were not conciliated across all quarters presented in this bulletin.

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

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

Track January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021 October to December 2021
No track assigned 3,704 3,448 3,504 4,113
Fast track 290 361 509 509
Standard track 838 836 769 686
Open track 647 568 438 435
Total not conciliated 5,479 5,213 5,220 5,743
Total closed 24,469 20,855 21,973 22,153
% 22% 25% 24% 26%

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 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 and this figure has remained stable throughout all quarters from January 2021 to September 2021. 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 tracks, with at least 60% of cases from all tracks not progressing to ET1.

Table 4: Early conciliation notification outcomes from October 2020 to September 2021

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

Track Outcome October to December 2020 January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021
No track assigned Settled by Acas [low] [low] [low] [low]
  ET1 avoided 3,981 3,265 2,715 2,419
  % did not progress to ET 73% 69% 69% 67%
Fast track Settled by Acas 1,258 1,381 1,178 1,043
  ET1 avoided 4,879 3,692 3,716 4,021
  % did not progress to ET 77% 79% 80% 76%
Standard track Settled by Acas 1,961 1,079 907 936
  ET1 avoided 3,772 2,667 2,051 2,153
  % did not progress to ET 69% 64% 65% 67%
Open track Settled by Acas 1,259 1,069 979 1,120
  ET1 avoided 4,176 2,875 2,821 3,136
  % did not progress to ET 67% 60% 63% 62%
Total Settled by Acas 4,478 3,529 3,064 3,099
  ET1 avoided 16,808 12,499 11,303 11,729
  % did not progress to ET 71% 68% 70% 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 increased from July to September 2021 to October to December 2021 by 8.8%. The highest level of ET1 receipts in the quarters from January 2021 to December 2021 was received in January to March 2021 with 8,995 cases. The highest proportion of ET1 receipts during all the quarters presented in this bulletin 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 the quarters presented in this bulletin.

Figure 4: Employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from January to December 2021

Line graph showing employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from January 2021 to December 2021

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

Table 5: Employment tribunal claim receipts per quarter from January to December 2021

Track January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021 October to December 2021
Fast track 1,873 1,492 1,672 1,707
Standard track 3,289 2,233 1,963 2,103
Open track 3,833 2,899 3,046 3,456
Total 8,995 6,624 6,681 7,266

5. Employment tribunal claims outcomes

At least 70% of all employment tribunal cases did not progress to a tribunal hearing during all quarters presented here. This figure stayed relatively stable throughout the previous 3 quarters, dropping by 6% from July to September 2021 to October to December 2021. 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 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 January to December 2021

Track Outcome January to March 2021 April to June 2021 July to September 2021 October to December 2021
Fast track Settled by Acas 995 1,326 1,258 834
Withdrawn 538 823 836 480
% did not have hearing 65% 67% 62% 60%
Standard track Settled by Acas 1,945 2,963 2,488 1,419
Withdrawn 586 960 954 583
% did not have hearing 76% 76% 75% 63%
Open track Settled by Acas 2,393 3,957 3,691 2,253
Withdrawn 767 1,380 1,523 935
% did not have hearing 85% 85% 86% 83%
Total Settled by Acas 5,333 8,246 7,437 4,506
Withdrawn 1,891 3,163 3,313 1,998
% did not have hearing 77% 78% 76% 70%

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 one 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 one 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:

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

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