The law changed last year so that anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim has to notify Acas first. Acas then tries to resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action through its free Early Conciliation (EC) service.
Acas has published a report on its first year of EC, with the following key points:
- Over 83,000 EC cases dealt with between April 2014 and March 2015;
- Three out of four employees and employers agreed to try EC in its first year of operation; and
- Eight out of ten people who took part in EC were satisfied with the service they received from Acas.
Statistics for EC notifications received between April and December show that 63% did not proceed to a tribunal claim, a further 15% resulted in a formal settlement (known as a COT3) and 22% progressed to a tribunal claim.
Of those who agreed financial settlement at EC 96% confirmed that settlement was paid; this compares favourably to claimants granted a financial award at tribunal, where only 63% said that they had received their payment.
Acas conciliation is of course still available after a tribunal claim has been lodged, right up to the point of a hearing. Around half (51%) of the 22% of cases where an employment tribunal claim was made were resolved by Acas. Interestingly, this would suggest that only 11% of EC cases have proceeded to hearing at Tribunal.
The research also found that EC saved claimants and employers time compared with going to Tribunal. Claimants spent an average of six hours on their dispute, compared to six days spent on disputes during employment tribunal cases. Among employers, the average amount of time spent on a dispute was five hours compared to five days for employment tribunal cases.
A second stage of the EC research will explore what happens to those claimants who go on to lodge a claim with the Tribunal, and the impact of Acas Conciliation on their next steps. Full results will be available later this year and reported in LAWmail.
The full Acas report is available here.