As the UK increasingly becomes a litigious society, it is pleasing to see that workplace legislation is moving in the opposite direction. As from 6th May 2014, a less stressful alternative to an Employment Tribunal for resolving workplace disputes is in place.
Early Conciliation will help resolve the majority of workplace disputes such as:
Unfair dismissal claims
Redundancy payments / selection procedures
Rights to time off or flexible working
Anyone wishing to lodge such a claim against a company must now notify Acas in the first instance by completing a simple Early Conciliation notification form. The case will be passed to a trained, independent conciliator and a clear process will follow to try and reach agreement without taking the matter to court. The process is voluntary and both parties do have to agree to take part in Early Conciliation before the process can start, and either party can change their mind at any time. However, a claim cannot now be lodged with an Employment Tribunal without an Acas Early Conciliation reference number.
For employers, it is estimated that the average cost of Early Conciliation will be around £500, with just one day spent on the claim. An Employment Tribunal costs an average of £3,700 and four days work.
Even though this is excellent news for employers, it must be stressed that it is still essential to ensure not only that you have robust systems and processes in place, but that you also ensure employees are valued and engaged. ORB members will find the regular HR Focus e-shots, delivered in partnership with Practical HR, particularly helpful.
For more information about Early Conciliation, and to access Early Conciliation Notification Forms, visit the Acas web site. or telephone the Acas helpline on 0300 123 1100