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Conciliation Update: April - September 2014

Published 19 November 2014

Since 6 May 2014 anyone wishing to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal has had to first notify Acas in order to provide an opportunity to resolve their dispute without the need for a claim. From 6 April this service was available on a voluntary basis.

This update provides information on the number of notifications received during the first six months on the:

  • proportion of employees and employers taking up the offer of conciliation
  • first indications of the proportion of cases that are settled or that go on to an Employment Tribunal claim.

EC notifications 6 April 2014 - 30 September 20141

EC NotificationsAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberTotal
Employee Notifications3,7066,3176,6006,7096,0986,73236,162
Employer Notifications1272251872091223721,242

Acas received approximately 1,000 notifications per week during April, increasing to around 1,600 per week for the rest of the period. This is in line with expectations.

Some notifications are made on behalf of a group of employees. 1,156 of these group notifications are included in the total of 37,404 notifications shown in Table 1.2 They covered 8,142 individuals. This means that notifications covering 44,390 employees were received in the first six months.

Take up of Early Conciliation

Once a notification is made to Acas, there is a one month extension to the legal time limit within which the claimant would need to bring a tribunal claim should they decide to do so. This ensures that there is time for discussions to see if those involved can reach an agreement. During this time Acas has a legal duty to offer conciliation, but the parties do not have to accept the offer.

The statistics show that relatively few people reject the offer of Early Conciliation. In the first six months, 3,783 (only 10%) of employees rejected the offer. Acas only contacts the employer if the employee has accepted conciliation and in these cases, 3,727 (10%) of employers rejected the offer of conciliation.

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.

Early indications of outcomes

Statistics on the outcome of cases become meaningful when the entire group of cases received during a period have had time to reach a final outcome. Almost all of the notifications received by Acas between April and June now satisfy this requirement and the outcomes for these cases are set out in Table 2 below. It updates the provisional information already released for Quarter One and provides additional information on the number of cases which did or did not progress to an Employment Tribunal.

Details of the outcomes of Quarter Two notifications will be included in the next Early Conciliation update.

Status of Cases Notified April - June 2014 at end October 2014NumberProportion
COT3 Settlement3,04618%
Did Not Progress to Tribunal Claim39,91858%
Dispute Progressed to Tribunal Claim4,19824%

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 a formal COT3.

It is not possible to capture definitively each of these other outcomes in management information so they are included here in the category 'Did not progress to tribunal' along with cases which did not progress for a variety of other reasons. 

Conciliation remains available up to the day of a case being heard by the Employment Tribunal. 4,198 (24%) of cases went on to an Employment tribunal claim, and by the end of October 989 of these had been settled 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. In line with normal practice, Acas will survey Early Conciliation service users to gain feedback and support continuous improvement. The survey findings will provide information about customer experience and about the factors influencing decision making by those involved. The survey results will become available during 2015 and will be published.


  1. There are some minor differences between the figures reported here for May and June and those reported in the Quarter One update. All the figures reported in these updates are subject to small changes reflecting the process of finalising management information during the operational year.
  2. A quarterly breakdown of group notifications is also available.
  3. It is possible that a small number of these cases might still progress to Tribunal or be settled by Acas. They should therefore be regarded as provisional figures but any future revisions are expected to be small.