The scheme was initially voluntary during April but ACAS received 1,000 requests for conciliation per week. Upon the scheme becoming compulsory in May and throughout June this increased to 1,600 requests per week. During the quarter, ACAS has received 17,000 requests, of which 3% were the result of employers making the initial request.
ACAS Early Conciliation can be started by either party but importantly, if the request is made by the employer, the Claimant’s limitation period will not be extended. In contrast, if the employee makes the initial request, stop the clock provisions will apply so as to extend the limitation date (the last date on which a Claimant can issue a claim in the Employment Tribunals.) ACAS does not advise on limitation and early independent legal advice should be sought. We have extensive knowledge of the Tribunal process and can advise you on your limitation date to prevent you from being time-barred and unable to pursue your claims.
ACAS reports that 16.5% of Early Conciliation cases resulted in successful settlement. 19% of employees told ACAS that they did not intend to pursue the matter further. There is clearly some advantage (based on the figures) to the scheme. It’s free to use after all and could prevent costly litigation for both parties.
The Ministry of Justice statistics show a 70% drop in the number of Employment Tribunal claims from April to June 2014 compared to last year. It is therefore no wonder that UNISON have confirmed that they will be presenting a new Judicial Review application in the High Court challenging Employment Tribunal fees. It remains to be seen whether fees will be a thing of the past in the future. We will of course keep you updated of any changes.