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Important Changes to the ACAS Early Conciliation Process

From 1 December 2020, parties will have a standard 6 week period to conduct resolution discussions under the ACAS early conciliation process.

What was the time frame prior to 1 December 2020?

The Employment Tribunals (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/254) that originally introduced the Early Conciliation process provided parties with a default 4 week conciliation process with a possible extension of a further 2 weeks if the parties are interested and are engaging in the process.

Following the enactment of The Employment Tribunals (Constitution and Rules of Procedure) (Early Conciliation: Exemptions and Rules of Procedure) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1003) the default period has been amended to provide parties with a standard 6 week period, with no option to extend.

Are there any other changes that employers should be aware of?

No. The notification obligation and time limitations for claims (often one month from the date of the certificate) remain unchanged.

What does this mean for employers?

On the whole, the amendment will likely be welcomed by employers. The standard 6 week conciliation period will provide both parties an extension of time to conduct the resolution process. It is understood that recently some employers have not been contacted by ACAS until as late as week three of the one month conciliation period. Therefore, the effect will enable parties to explore settlement for longer and in doing so, alleviate the parties of the effort to request additional time. From a wider perspective, the change may also result in fewer cases being escalated to the Employment Tribunal which will ultimately help reduce the ever-growing backlog of cases.

If you need advice or have any queries about dealing with any workplace issues or the ACAS process, please contact Paul Chamberlain or another member of the employment team at JMW Solicitors LLP on 0345 241 5305.

This note is for general guidance only and should not be used for any other purpose. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

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