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Early Conciliation – an update from ACAS

This morning was a momentous day in our household as my first born started "big school" today. Having played peacekeeper between my two darlings throughout the summer holidays, it struck me that conciliation must be very high up in a Reception class teacher's skillset.  It seems timely therefore that ACAS have today published some statistics on Early Conciliation (EC) in practice, for the period from when it was introduced to the end of June.

As you will all be aware, EC was introduced in April this year (on a voluntary basis) and became mandatory from May.  Its aim is to provide an opportunity to resolve workplace disputes without the need to bring a claim in the Employment Tribunal.

The number of EC notifications rose from 3,833 in April to 6,768 in June, the increase presumably reflecting the fact that EC was voluntary in April.  The majority of notifications in each month were received from employees (with only about 3% of the total received coming from employers).  Interestingly the stats include figures regarding take up – in 7% of cases the offer of conciliation was rejected by the employee and in 9% of cases by the employer.  ACAS acknowledges that in most cases parties are willing to talk about the issues.  This reflects the experience that we have had so far since the introduction of the new regime.

In terms of outcomes, of the 11,355 cases which ended their EC during the quarter, 16.5% were successfully settled via a COT3.  In addition, during the same period, 19% of employees decided not to take the matter further (although this figure could misleading as a claim might still have been issued).  These figures are encouraging.  It would however be interesting to know the reasons why claims were not pursued in the 19% of cases – did the claims have no reasonable prospect of success? Were the employees put off by the Tribunal fees?  In any event, we can never emphasise enough the time and cost to an organisation of fighting a claim in the Tribunal and if the issue can be resolved at an early stage it will be beneficial to all parties.  ACAS plan to publish further information regarding the new regime and it will be interesting to see whether the number of cases settled/taken no further increases.

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