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Anne Sharp
Chief executive at Acas and guest blogger for The Work Foundation
Anne Sharp

How will the new early conciliation service affect workplace disputes?

Authors: Anne Sharp Chief executive at Acas and guest blogger for The Work Foundation

19 February 2014

From 6 April this year anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim will need to contact Acas first. We will then get in touch and offer a new free service called Early Conciliation to try to resolve the dispute quickly without the need for a Tribunal hearing. The new service will allow an extra four to six weeks to attempt to resolve the dispute before people hit the deadline for making their claim.

At Acas our advice is always that it’s better to resolve disputes at the earliest possible stage, ideally in the workplace itself. The aim of conciliation is to explore with both parties whether they can find a solution without going to court.

The earlier we can get people talking, the more chance there is of success. But there are other good reasons for trying to resolve issues through Acas conciliation. The key one being that successful conciliation avoids the time, cost and stress involved in a tribunal – which all parties want to avoid. Added to which, our expert conciliators are professional, impartial and have a good proven track record of success, getting great feedback from the people they help. If that hasn’t convinced you, the fact that Early Conciliation is free to all parties should seal the deal.

Conciliators do not make judgements on the merits of a case, they don’t take sides and they don’t help either side prepare their case for a tribunal. They do use their experience and skills to open up channels of communication and help those involved explore possible solutions. All discussions are confidential and only the parties and the Acas Conciliator will know what has been said. The tribunal process is completely separate to this. Settlements are legally binding and agreed by the parties, not imposed by Acas.

We are running a project to gather single points of contact in larger organisations to ensure we can start dialogue with both parties as quickly as possible. Your organisation can get more details about whether this is right for you by contacting ECContactsList@acas.org.uk

If you want to find out more about Early Conciliation and how it works visit www.acas.org.uk/earlyconciliation

 For further information and advice on any workplace issue call the Acas Helpline on 08457 47 47 47.