Mandatory early conciliation comes into effect for employment claims presented on or after 6 May 2014. Transitional provisions cover the period between 6 April and 5 May 2014 and during this period early consultation is available to prospective claimants. From 6 May 2014 therefore there will be a duty (save for a small number of exempt claims) on the parties to an employment dispute to attempt early conciliation prior to a Tribunal claim being issued.
There is a four stage procedure whereby a prospective claimant must contact ACAS before the relevant proceedings are issued. The procedure in summary will be as follows:
1. The claimant sends the “prescribed information” to ACAS in the “prescribed manner”.
2. The information is sent to a Conciliation Officer (CO) following initial contact from an early Conciliation Support Officer with the prospective claimant to determine that the prospective claimant still wishes to proceed.
3. The CO must try to promote a settlement within a prescribed period (usually one month).
4. If a settlement is not reached, because the CO does not consider a settlement is possible or because the prescribed period expires, the CO must issue a certificate to that effect. Only once a certificate has been issued will the prospective claimant be able to pursue most Tribunal claims. The effect of this process is therefore to extend the period of time to issue proceedings in the majority of Tribunal claims.