Employment Law & HR News & Updates.

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Conciliation Helps to Reduce Tribunal Hearings


Acas to be Notified of Dispute

Since 2014, any employee involved in a dispute with their employer must notify Acas before they are able to take the dispute to an employment tribunal. Acas will then offer an Early Conciliation service to both parties to see whether the dispute can be resolved without the need for legal action.
Participation is not compulsory for either party to the dispute, but Acas will continue to offer conciliation even after a tribunal claim has been lodged, right up until the date of the tribunal hearing.


Reduction in Claims

According to Acas, its conciliation service has led to a reduction in the number of claims proceeding to a tribunal. Recent research conducted by the organisation has shown that:
  • 71% of claimants avoided going to court after receiving help from Acas,
  • Acas' post-claim conciliation has also been highly successful, with eight out of ten users being satisfied with the service,
  • 92% of employers and a similar percentage of claimants (87%) said that they would use Acas conciliation again.
Acas figures show that between April 2015 and March 2016 it handled more than 92,000 Early Conciliation cases, which is an increase of almost 1,000 compared to the same period last year. Acas also says that it has been approached directly by employers requesting conciliation in over 4,000 cases - an increase of nearly 60% on the previous year.
The research also revealed that:
  • 54% of claimants said that taking part in Early Conciliation made it quicker to resolve their employment tribunal claim,
  • 77% of claimants and 86% of employers were happy with amount of contact they had with Acas,
  • among claimants and their representatives who withdrew their cases, 20% felt that the tribunal fees were off putting and 17% felt it was too stressful to continue,
  • 63% of claimants who took part in Early Conciliation felt better prepared for the subsequent employment tribunal claim process.

Tribunal Fees

Early Conciliation has undoubtedly had an impact on tribunal cases, but according to trade union Unison an even greater reduction in case numbers has been caused by the introduction of tribunal fees.
The union claims that ever since the Government introduced tribunal fees in 2013, the number of claims has plummeted as workers have been forced to find fees of between £160 and £1,200 before they can pursue a case.
Unison quotes Ministry of Justice figures, which apparently show an 81% drop in claims from January to March 2014 compared to the same period in the previous years. There was also an 81% drop between April and June 2014 compared to the previous year.
Unison has brought a legal challenge against the Government over the introduction of tribunal fees. This challenge has so far been unsuccessful, but in February of this year the union was given permission to take its appeal to the Supreme Court.

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