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Amendment to ACAS Early Conciliation Rules

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

There is currently a considerable backlog of Employment Tribunal claims due to the pandemic so any attempt to come to a resolution using the ACAS Early Conciliation process should be taken seriously.

On 1 December 2020, the rules of procedure for ACAS Early Conciliation (EC) were amended:

  • The period allowed for early conciliation (EC period) increased from four weeks to six weeks with no possibility for an extension. Prior to that date, the EC period lasted four weeks with an option to extend this period by a further 14 days.
  • ACAS conciliators now have greater discretion to correct errors in the EC form at any time during the EC Period.

There are some practical steps that employers can take in order to get the most out of the six-week early conciliation period, including:

  • Note when the clock started and when it expires.
  • Use ACAS to obtain as much information from the Claimant as possible.
  • Consider commercial factors – what could it cost the business if we lose at Tribunal?
  • Know your negotiation parameters and stick with them – if it is your final offer, say so.
  • Make it clear any settlement discussions are without prejudice to avoid anything being used against the business in the event the dispute ends up in the Tribunal

Full details can be found here.

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