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‘Early Conciliation’ – all claims to go first to ACAS

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This page does not apply outside Great Britain.
Last updated 18th October 2019.

Employment tribunal claimants normally have to notify ACAS of their complaint before putting in a tribunal claim. Known as ‘Early conciliation’, this gives an opportunity to resolve the dispute through conciliation before going to a tribunal. It applies to Great Britain, but also Northern Ireland.

Since May 2014, Employment Tribunal claimants normally have to notify ACAS of their complaint before putting in a tribunal claim. This gives an opportunity to resolve the dispute through conciliation before going to a tribunal.

Notification to ACAS is through a simple form submitted online, or by post or telephone. The normal three month (less one day) time limit for submitting a tribunal claim is extended to allow for the conciliation period.

The official Early Conciliation Notification website is ec.acas.org.uk, and that page links to the online request form.

The rules do not mean the claimant or employer has to engage with ACAS. If either party is unwilling to conciliate, or if conciliation is unsuccessful, the claim can go to a tribunal.

If you want to sue someone else in addition to the employer, for example an individual, you have to fill out a separate Early Conciliation form for each.

The Early Conciliation scheme is on top of other rules encouraging use of internal grievance or disciplinary procedures: see Grievance, disciplinary and other procedures.

Links:

The main legal provisions for early conciliation are in s.18A Employment Tribunals Act 1996.

Northern Ireland

The rules discussed above apply to Great Britain, ie England, Scotland and Wales. However Northern Ireland is to introduce rules for mandatory early conciliation from January 2020: see Early conciliation set to extend Tribunal time limits (worthingtonslaw.co.uk).

On Northern Ireland more generally, see Northern Ireland disability discrimination law.

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