The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is an organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes.
On the 6th of April 2014, mandatory pre-claim ACAS conciliation was introduced with the intention of making the Tribunal system more efficient. The majority of employment claims such as unfair dismissal and discrimination are subject to the new compulsory conciliation rules.
Prior to issuing an employment tribunal claim, a ‘potential Claimant’ will need to complete an Early Conciliation form lodging details of their potential dispute with ACAS. An ACAS Early Conciliation Support Officer (ESCO) with then make a ‘reasonable attempt’ to contact the prospective Claimant to take further details regarding their complaint and seek their permission to contact the Respondent Company to try and facilitate a resolution.
If ACAS concludes that settlement is not possible, it will issue an Early Conciliation (EC) Certificate to the Claimant which will then enable the Claimant to lodge Employment Tribunal Proceedings.
Employment Tribunal Proceedings
Since July 2013, Claimants have had to pay a fee to bring a claim in the employment tribunals, comprising of an issue fee and a hearing fee. The amount of the fee depends on the type of claim, but could be up to £1200. Depending on their financial circumstances, an individual Claimant may be able to claim a remission of all or part of any fee for which they are responsible.
Generally there are no fees payable by an employer for simply defending a tribunal claim however there are a few limited circumstances in which an employer’s chosen course of action may incur a fee, for example, making a contractual counter claim against the employee.