This is yet another idea by the government to reduce the numbers of claims going through the tribunal system. Compulsory pre-claim conciliation comes into effect on April 5th. In theory this is a good idea as it may offset the burden of having to pay to go to tribunal and the cost to employers in defending claims. It will in my opinion encourage employers to make offers just to get rid of the claim. In theory it should reduce the delays in the tribunal system.
From April Claimants will no longer be able to issue an ET1 and pay their fees until they have received a certificate number from ACAS. The claimant must contact ACAS before initiating the claim using a simple on line form ACAS will reply within 24 hours to ask if they want to engage in conciliation. There are then two options either they can say no in which case ACAS will issue the certificate and the claimant can proceed or if they say yes the time limit clock for claim submission can be stopped for up to 1 month while ACAS attempts to conciliate the claim. The Employer when approached can also say no to conciliation in which case the clock will restart and the certificate issued.
Conciliation can continue as it does at present after the ET1 is issued.
This system has I believe been piloted but I’m not sure I have some major concerns because I am not convinced that ACAS have sufficient trained resources to cope with this .At present a lot of ACAS staff work part time and are not always easy to get hold of and their quality is variable. I am assured by ACAS this has been fixed.
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Michael H Newman