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The Acas Early Conciliation is a free service developed to help individuals looking to make a claim to an employment tribunal find an acceptable solution without the need for solicitors.
The process, which became a mandatory requirement for employees wishing to make an employment tribunal claim in May last year, has seen measurable success during its first year of operation, with Acas receiving over 83,400 notifications from employees and employers which equates to 100,000 disputes.
In a large number of cases, both employees and employers have been willing to talk about the issues – creating a better understanding of the dispute which ultimately helps to resolve matters either straightaway or as the process proceeds. Very few people have rejected the offer of early conciliation with about 10.5% of employees and 11.4% of employers rejecting conciliation. In our own analysis of a sample of employment tribunal cases, we found similar levels of success from the early conciliation process, with a total of 42% being settled as a result of using it.
In response to the launch of the early conciliation service last year, Arc Legal extended the support available from the legal helpline as part of its Family Legal Protection insurance cover. The aim of the service is to assist customers through the conciliation process, including reviewing cases and giving early guidance on prospects in a tribunal claim, completing the Acas notification form for the customer and providing advice during the conciliation process as well as on any settlement offer made by the employer.
By reacting to the changes in the employment dispute process in this way, Arc Legal has been able to actively assist customers in gaining a better understanding of the new processes. The helpline has been able to address some of the confusion surrounding how the process works, which has previously prevented some claimants from fully engaging with the process, and so not benefiting from early conciliation. The fact there is no fee for early conciliation also provides the opportunity for cases, where the initial assessment of the case’s prospects and outcome are considered disproportionate, for the helpline to provide assistance to individuals to enable them to proceed under the scheme.
The enhanced helpline service could also have a positive impact on claimant outcomes and assist in improving the capture of cases and costing controls via our panel solicitor arrangements.
To find out more about our helpline service in this area, please contact your Account Manager.