Early Conciliation: An Important Advice for Employers

Early Conciliation: An Important Advice for Employers

The United Kingdom, like other countries in the European Union, has a system for settling disputes between employers and employees called conciliation.

The early conciliation procedure is a way of settling disputes that have been introduced by the Employment Tribunal for England and Wales. It is a process to bring about conciliation between parties before a claim can be heard in court or tribunal. The conciliator helps the employer and employee reach a mutually agreeable agreement, which can then be incorporated into a legally binding contract under UK law.

If you are an employer, it is important to know how to use the new procedures correctly from day one.

How To Start The Conciliation Process

You can contact ACAS either by phone or in writing. The most straightforward way is to use the online Early Conciliation form on the ACAS website, which will also allow you to upload any supporting documents such as contracts and statutory declarations required by ACAS.

Once all of this has been done, your claim will then go through an assessment period with a conciliator at ACAS, who decides whether it should proceed into the early discussion stage. An EC Certificate will be granted once the claimant, employer or ACAS itself decides that no agreement can be met, or once the statutory conciliation period expires. It is best to get ACAS early conciliation advice for UK employers to guide you through the entire process.

If the parties involved agree to conciliate, then ACAS will have one month from the date the EC form was received by ACAS to facilitate a settlement. That period can be extended by up to two weeks where there is a reasonable prospect of achieving a settlement.

What To Do If An Agreement Is Not Reached

If an agreement is not reached through Early Conciliation, the next step is to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal. No business wants an unjust dismissal from an employee. So if you’re facing an employment tribunal, immediately seek an expert that provides tribunal representation for businesses. Employers should be aware that this process can be lengthy and costly.

The Tribunal will first consider whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case and then decide on the merits of the claim. In order for a claim to be successful, the Tribunal must be satisfied that:

  • the claimant has a legally recognised right to bring the claim;
  • the claimant was an employee of the respondent at the time of the alleged misconduct; and
  • there was some form of discrimination, unfair dismissal or breach of contract.

If the Tribunal finds in favour of your claim it can make one or more of the following orders:

  • reinstatement or re-engagement of the claimant;
  • payment of compensation to the claimant, which may include loss of earnings and benefits;
  • an order for the respondent to take specific steps to put things right (known as ‘remedial action’); and/or
  • an award of costs against the respondent.

How Mediation Can Help Resolve Disputes In The Workplace

The benefits of mediation are clear: it helps to resolve disputes quickly, cheaply, and in a confidential manner. If you have any disputes within your workplace, be sure to consider mediation as an option. It may just save your team from some serious conflicts.

A mediator works to help both parties find a solution that they are happy with, and this is not just limited to financial reimbursements. Mediation can be used for any dispute in the workplace:

  • A Promotion Or Pay Raise – if one employee feels like another has been promoted over them despite their better performance record, mediation can help both parties come to an agreement regarding this.
  • A Disagreement Over A Project – if two employees are working on the same job, but cannot agree how it should be done, mediation may also work here. Some mediators will even offer services to set up a schedule where they can oversee projects as they happen and ensure that both employees are happy with the outcome.
  • Bullying Or Harassment – this is one of the more serious disputes that can occur in the workplace, but mediation can still be a valuable tool to resolving it. The mediator will work with both parties to create a confidential agreement that stops the bullying/harassment from happening again. This type of agreement is often called a ‘Cease and Desist’ letter.

Time Limits

One calendar month is the minimum amount of time you will have from the date of receipt of the certificate to make a claim to the employment tribunal.

In some cases, you may have longer than 1 month to make a claim. For example, if you are claiming unfair dismissal, you will have 42 days from the date of your last day at work to make a claim.

Early Conciliation: An Important Advice for Employers
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