Acas reports increase in the number of pre-tribunal conciliations
Since 2014, those who intend to bring a claim to an employment tribunal have to first notify Acas of their intention to do so, unless an exemption applies. Acas then offer an impartial conciliation process where both parties are given the opportunity to settle the matter at this pre-tribunal stage. This process is voluntary, with no obligation on either side to take part, however, it can lead to an early resolution. The opportunity to conclude a case at this stage is useful for organisations who wish to reach an early resolution of a tribunal matter, whether out of commercial considerations or to avoid the risks of losing a tribunal claim.
During the quarter from April to June 2018, 32,322 early conciliation notifications were received from employees, with a total of 849 notifications from employers. Nearly half of the total number of notifications received were fast track cases, usually concerning monetary issues such as a failure to pay correct wages. Over 8,000 notifications related to cases involving discrimination or a whistleblowing claim. Acas report that nearly 5,100 notifications relate to a connected case concerning an equal pay claim, which refelcts the high number of mass equal pay claims currently underway.
Once Acas receive a notification that a potential tribunal claim exists, they will provide parties with the opportunity to settle the matter, through an Acas negotiated COT3 settlement. During this three-month period, 3,755 COT3 settlements were reached, producing a legally binding agreement preventing the case from progressing to the employment tribunal. On the other hand, over 7,000 cases which were closed between April and June 2018 have subsequently progressed to a tribunal claim; meaning 23 per cent of cases closed have resulted in a claim.
These high numbers of Early Conciliation notifications reflect the tribunal statistics released earlier this year by the Ministry of Justice, which showed that the number of employment tribunal claims are continuing to increase since fees were removed.