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Changes to the Employment Tribunal System – ACAS Early Conciliation Scheme
Setting aside the highly contentious topic of the new charging rules brought in for Employment Tribunal applications , an issue currently being challenged through the High Court by UNISON, there remain some significant and clearly positive elements of the new system to be considered. Principal amongst these appears to be the ACAS Early Conciliation Scheme which came into force on 6th April 2014 transitionally, and from 6th May 2014 compulsorily.
The new scheme requires a potential claimant to contact ACAS before presenting most employment tribunal claims, at which point a series of new steps will be initiated:
- the ‘clock stops’ on a tribunal claim period, and an initial period of one calendar month for Early conciliation is launched
- if both parties agree, this can be extended (only once) by a further 14 days
- if the matter is still not resolved after this period then Early Conciliation is brought to an end and the claim can proceed, but only with the inclusion of a unique reference number issued on the certificate provided by the conciliator
So far, according to figures published by ACAS in September 2014, there was a formal ACAS COT3 settlement of 16 1/2 % of the total of 11,355 cases that ended their early conciliation period during the quarter April-June 2014.