The Role of ACAS in an Employment Tribunal Claim
Before an Employment Tribunal (“ET”) can accept a claim in respect of, for example, unfair dismissal, discrimination, or harassment, the Claimant must have gone through the Early Conciliation (“EC”) process. This process is, in effect, a last chance for the parties to resolve the matter before litigation is commenced in the form of the claim being submitted to the ET. The EC process can be summarized in this way:
- The Claimant submits an EC form, which includes basic information such as the claim(s) the Claimant is making, to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), who oversee the EC process. The form is intentionally simple to complete and therefore does not require the input of a solicitor
- An Acas conciliator contacts the entity against which the Claimant is making the claim(s). This is called the Respondent, and is usually the Claimant’s current or previous employer
- Following such contact, the Respondent is aware of the existence of the possibility of a claim(s), what it relates to, and the basic reasons why the Claimant considers that they have a valid claim
- The Respondent informs the conciliator either that it is prepared to try to settle the claim by negotiation, or that it does not (eg it considers that the claim is without merit, or it has defences against it)
- The conciliator communicates this to the Claimant. If the Respondent does not wish to try to settle the claim, the conciliator issues an EC Certificate to the Claimant. This Issuance of the EC certificate shows that the parties have complied with the process but that it was unsuccessful. The Claimant is now free to submit a claim to the ET.
- If the Respondent does wish to try to settle the claim by negotiation, it will communicate with the Claimant by way of the conciliator. It is this part of the process which is the subject of this piece.