New process of 'early conciliation' commences from 6 April 2014

26 July 2014
New process of 'early conciliation' commences from 6 April 2014

By Vanessa Rennie

Employees lodging an employment tribunal claim must now take part in 'early conciliation', a new mandatory scheme provided free of charge by Acas and its mediation staff.

Provided from 6 April 2014 it means that notifying Acas first before lodging a claim is now necessary for the majority of claims lodged on or after 6 May 2014.

Those proceedings which require early conciliation include:

  • unfair dismissal
  • equal pay
  • redundancy payments
  • redundancy selection
  • unlawful deduction from wages
  • unpaid notice/holiday pay
  • rights to time off or flexible working.


When a claimant contacts Acas, this halts the time limit for lodging a tribunal claim for the duration of the conciliation period which runs from the day after the claimant contacts Acas to the day they receive their certificate. Discussions between the claimant and conciliator are without prejudice and cannot be presented as evidence in a tribunal. If the conciliation between the two results in a successful conclusion, a legally binding settlement is signed.

Alternatively, if the conciliator agrees it is not possible to reach a settlement within the period (usually one month from the date when the claimant first contacted Acas) or if the claimant still wants to continue their claim, they can still do so, but will need to obtain an early conciliation certificate from Acas. This includes a unique reference number that must be included on the ET1 claim form required to include with their tribunal application. If this number is not included, tribunal claims will be rejected.

There are several instances where claimants do not have to notify Acas before making a claim to the tribunal:

  • if the claim involves multiple claimants bringing claims against the same respondent and one of the claimants has already complied with the early conciliation requirement
  • if the claim is on the same form as proceedings which do not require conciliation
  • if an unfair dismissal claim is accompanied by an interim relief application
  • if the prospective respondent has already contacted Acas in anticipation of a claim being made against them.


This process replaces the previous pre-claim conciliation process by Acas which was a voluntary procedure. It means that employers will have more contact with Acas at an earlier stage in disputes and thus means there may be a longer time between a dispute arising and the claimant lodging a tribunal claim. As a consequence, employers may see this new process as a positive change to resolve a dispute without the time, cost and implications of a tribunal case.

For further information, see the Employment Tribunals section of HRBird.

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