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Mandatory early conciliation – are you ready?

The Early Conciliation regime is being introduced from 6 April 2014 - are you ready?

What’s changing?

Usually you become aware of an Employment Tribunal (ET) claim against your organisation when the claim form lands on your desk. However, from 6 May 2014 all prospective claimants will be required to contact ACAS in order to engage in mandatory Early Conciliation before being able to lodge an ET claim. The Early Conciliation regime is being introduced from 6 April 2014 so from this date employers should expect to be contacted by ACAS and asked whether they want to engage in Early Conciliation. If conciliation between the parties proves unsuccessful or the employer chooses not to engage in the process, the prospective claimant will then be able to lodge their ET claim. The stated aim of the change is to go from an “adversarial…to a conciliatory legal process”.

How will this affect my organisation?

Instead of processing claim forms and instructing your legal advisors as usual, you will now need to consider how your organisation intends to deal with calls from ACAS and Early Conciliation discussions. Prospective claimants will be required to supply contact details to ACAS so that the conciliatory body can then make contact. For example, where a prospective claimant gives details of their line manager as a point of contact, ACAS will call them to engage in Early Conciliation on behalf of the employer. How your organisation handles these situations will determine whether this Early Conciliation process reduces the number of ET claims your organisation faces and reduces legal costs or makes no difference at all.

What action do I need to take?

Firstly, seek advice on the specifics of the Early Conciliation process so that you can determine what impact it may have on your organisation.

Secondly and importantly, formulate a policy and procedure for dealing with Early Conciliation so that it does not come as a surprise when the phone starts ringing from 6 April 2014.

How can Ward Hadaway help?

For further information on these changes or your employment / HR requirements generally, please get in touch.