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What is ACAS Early Conciliation?

The ACAS early conciliation process is a free service you can use to try and resolve an employment dispute. You can start the process online here:

We have prepared a video about the process which you may find helpful here:

Early conciliation is the step in the Employment Tribunal process which employees are required to undertake before they can submit their claim form.

Please note, the process is very straight forward, and the ACAS conciliator appointed to handle your claim will liaise directly with your employer/former employer on your behalf.

Whilst you are required to contact ACAS before you can commence your claim in the Employment Tribunal, there is no requirement to engage in the early conciliation process. In this situation you can simply obtain the EC certificate, which will enable you to submit your claim.

However, there are a few benefits in engaging with the process which are:

  • Your limitation period for submitting an Employment Tribunal claim is paused whilst you are in the early conciliation.

This will provide you with additional time to prepare your claim or seek assistance if you wish, without being concerned about the limitation deadline. In the Employment Tribunal, you are required to contact ACAS within 3 months less one day from the date of dismissal or last act/event relied upon in relation to discrimination/detriment claims.

  • You may be able to resolve the dispute within the early conciliation process which will negate the need to submit a claim. This will avoid additional stress and the possible financial implication of pursuing a claim.

In the circumstances, I recommend both employees and employers engage meaningfully in the early conciliation process.

It means that you may be contacted by an ACAS officer advising you that one of your employees/former employees is intending to pursue a claim in the Employment Tribunal. You will then have the opportunity to consider whether you want to try to reach a settlement with the employee.

There is no obligation upon you to try to reach a settlement with the employee. You may however want to consider your options and the potential risk if the employee follows through with their claim.

There are benefits to reaching an early settlement with an employee, such as avoiding the time and potential cost of defending the claim.

Even if the claim does not have any merit, you may consider that on a commercial, purely cost basis, it is cheaper (time and money wise) to pay them a small amount to ‘go away’ than the time involved in defending it.

As I frequently inform client’s, our aim is to put you in the best position to defend a claim in the unfortunate event one is pursued; however, we can do nothing to prevent a claim from being submitted.

Unfortunately, you may not have all of the information about the allegations or details of claim as there is only a requirement for the employee to state what claims they are making to the ACAS officer.

The amount of information you receive will depend upon what the employee tells the ACAS officer and how good the ACAS officer is at extracting the details from the employee.

If you are considering settlement, you can always ask the ACAS officer questions or for information to be obtained from the employee.

When an employee contacts ACAS their time limit of 3 months is effectively paused whilst the conciliation process takes place.

As an employer you should be aware that there is scope to receive notification of a claim from the Employment Tribunal after the 3-month period and if you are in any doubt as to whether the claim is within time or not you should seek advice, as this may be a potential line of defence to have the claim dismissed.

The discussions that take place with the ACAS officer will not be disclosed to the Employment Tribunal and remain confidential.

As an employer you are able to request help and assistance from ACAS if you think that an issue with an employee may result in them making a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

Alternatively, you may wish to consider whether mediation is appropriate.

We offer workplace mediation, and if you have any queries relating to the process, please contact my colleague Jo Carley on 01983 897003.

Considering pursuing, or having to defend, an Employment Tribunal can be a stressful process, but we are able to assist with any part of the proceedings including the ACAS early conciliation stage.

If you have any queries or would like to discuss matters, we offer a free half hour telephone consultation. Please contact us on 01983 897003.

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Appointments are available by telephone or via video call, so no matter where you are in England or Wales we can assist you.

The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

Solicitor in Eastleigh | Solicitor in Salisbury | Solicitor Isle of Wight