04 September 2019

Increase in demand for early conciliation

Cases of disgruntled employees lodging claims against their employer continues to rise, and with the increase comes a need for organisations to ensure they are fully aware of the options available to them.

The 2017 Supreme Court ruling to scrap Employment Tribunal fees is widely regarded as being responsible for this notable increase, with figures for 2018/2019 revealing how Early Conciliation notifications have jumped from 1,700 to around 2,500 a week nationally. This growth represents an annual rise of more than 20 per cent when compared to the previous 12 months.

The Early Conciliation process is a mandatory step, introduced by ACAS in 2014, for employees to complete prior to issuing their Employment Tribunal Claim - the purpose being to see whether a potential dispute can be settled between the parties before a claim is issued. This process is widely regarded as positive, with parties potentially agreeing a way forward and avoiding time-consuming and potentially expensive Tribunal proceedings. However, it is worth remembering that an employee is not required, by law, to enter into such conciliation talks – in fact, if either side refuses, then the Early Conciliation will finish, and it is down to the employee whether to pursue the matter further.

In a recent ACAS report, it revealed that more than a quarter of Early Conciliation claims proceed to the Employment Tribunal stage, with the most popular issues being unfair dismissal and outstanding wages.

If your business has been contacted by ACAS in relation to Early Conciliation or you have received notification of an Employment Tribunal claim, it is imperative that you obtain appropriate and timely legal advice to consider whether to settle a potential claim or submit a defence within the strict deadlines. The reputational damage and financial implications of not following this process properly and in line with deadlines could prove to be extremely costly.

For further information, please contact Katie Davies on 01472 253917.

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