From April 2014 any employee wishing to make a tribunal claim will be required to first notify ACAS and enter into the early conciliation (EC) process with their employer. This will be an optional service in April and mandatory by the 6 May 2014.
ACAS will assign a conciliation officer to the case and there will be a period of time (likely to be approximately one month) during which they will attempt to enable both parties to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion to the matter. If the conciliation office concludes that the matter cannot be settled they will issue an EC Certificate and only at that point will an employee be able to submit a Tribunal Claim Form.
Any conversations that take place during this process will be on a “without prejudice” basis, which gives employers some confidence that they cannot then be referred to later on if the matter isn’t resolved and does end up at tribunal.
Alongside the introduction of tribunal fees last year, this appears to be good news for employers who may feel greater confidence that they will not face tribunal for spurious claims, and at the same time it should enable employees with genuine claims to see them resolved without significant costs or time delay.