PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.
Since 6 May 2014, it is a legal requirement, unless an exemption applies, for anyone wishing to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal (ET) to first notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) by completing an Early Conciliation notification form. ET claims will not be accepted unless this procedure has been followed and a formal Early Conciliation certificate has been issued. The system was initially introduced on a voluntary basis on 6 April 2014.
Acas has now published information on the number of notifications received during the first six months that the scheme was in operation.
Between 6 April 2014 and 30 September 2014 there were 37,404 notifications in all, 36,162 from employees and 1,242 from employers. The average weekly number of notifications was around 1,600, which is in line with the number forecast. Included in the total number of notifications are 1,156 group notifications covering 8,142 individuals.
Only 10 per cent of employees (3,783) rejected the offer of conciliation. The employer is only contacted in cases where the employee decides that they do wish to proceed with Early Conciliation. At this stage in proceedings, 10 per cent (3,727) of employers rejected the offer of conciliation.
The statistics only become meaningful when cases have reached a final outcome. Figures on the status of cases notified during April, May and June 2014 show that, to date, 18 per cent (3,046) have resulted in a formal conciliated agreement (COT3) and 24 per cent (4,198) have been lodged as ET claims. The remaining 9,918 notifications (58 per cent) that have not progressed as ET claims may include a small number of cases that could still be presented as ET claims. It also includes cases where agreement was reached without the need for a COT3 agreement, as well as cases where the employee, for whatever reason, decided not to pursue the matter.
As more cases go through the system, so the impact of the Early Conciliation arrangements will become clearer. Acas will also be carrying out a survey of users of the scheme, the results of which will be published in 2015.