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Conciliation Update: April - December 2014

Published 4 March 2015

Since 6 May 2014 anyone wishing to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal must first notify Acas, and we will offer them 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 nine months. It covers the:

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

Table 1: EC notifications 6 April 2014 - 31 December 20141


The number of notifications Acas receives has increased from approximately 1,000 per week during April, when notification was not mandatory to around 1,600 per week in May-August; and then increasing further to around 1,800 per week in the last four months. We believe that the increase in the last four months largely reflects the impact of recent decisions relating to the calculation of Holiday Pay. We received around 2300 notifications covering over 11,000 individuals relating to this type of case between mid August and the end of December.

Some notifications are made on behalf of a group of employees. 3,145 group notifications, covering 18,996 individuals are included in the total of 60,855 notifications shown in Table 1.3 This means that notifications covering 76,706 employees were received in the first nine months.

Take up of Early Conciliation

Once a notification is made to Acas, the legal time limit within which the claimant 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 nine months, 5,292 (about 8.7%) of employees rejected the offer. Acas only contacts the employer if the employee has accepted conciliation and in these cases, 6,868 (11.3%) of employers rejected the offer of conciliation in the first nine months.

Early indications of outcomes

Statistics on the outcome of cases become meaningful when 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 six 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 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. 

Table 2: Status of Cases Notified April - September 2014 at end January 2015

Status of Cases Notified April - September 2014
at end January 2015
COT3 Settlement6,17316.3%
Did Not Progress to Tribunal Claim522,95760.5%
Dispute Progressed to Tribunal Claim8,81023.2%

Conciliation remains available up to the day of a case being heard by the Employment Tribunal. Between April and September 2014, 8,810 (23%) disputes where Acas had been notified had progressed to an Employment Tribunal claim. By the end of January 2015 a further 2,530 of these cases had been settled by Acas conciliators. This figure will continue to rise until all of these cases reach hearing date. COT3 settlement rates were higher in April and early May because those who voluntarily notified were more likely to be actively interested in conciliation. Since June, rates have been averaging 15% to 16% per month.

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. Acas is in the process of surveying 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 in Summer 2015.


  1. There are some minor differences between the figures reported and those reported in the Quarters One and Two updates. All the figures reported in these updates are subject to small changes reflecting the process of finalising management information during the operational year.  For the cases received in September the figure has been revised since the last Update to include additional cases received in September but which were not previously counted within September's receipts.
  2. In April 2014 the service was available on a voluntary basis only.
  3. A quarterly breakdown of group notifications is also available.
  4. Details of the outcomes of Quarter Three notifications will be included in the Acas Annual Report.
  5. 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.