In 2014, an ‘Early Conciliation’ process was introduced to help settle an employee’s dispute with an employer without going to an Employment Tribunal.
In cases where an individual is considering making a claim to a tribunal, Acas, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, now provides the opportunity for them to resolve the matter with their employer before a legal claim is lodged.
In order to encourage the use of Early Conciliation, an employee is required in nearly all cases to contact Acas and to obtain an Early Conciliation Certificate. Without a Certificate, an employee cannot make an application to an Employment Tribunal.
Part of the reason for the development of Early Conciliation was to respond to the needs of smaller businesses.
The Coalition Government, which introduced the reform, found that smaller companies are proportionately more likely to find themselves the subject of employment tribunal claims, yet in contrast are much less likely to have access to in-house expertise to help them deal with problems.
Although an employee is legally required to contact Acas before making a tribunal claim, they and their employer are not obliged to take part in conciliation and can stop the process whenever they wish. Since its introduction, however, Acas considers Early Conciliation to have been a success, providing quicker resolutions of disputes without legal action.