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Major Employment Law Change

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If you have a claim against an employer, from 6 April you must first go through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

One of the major changes to Employment Law this year will be the launch of the Early Conciliation service on 6 April 2014. This will be a free service run by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS). It will affect anyone who issues an employment claim. Employees will have to contact ACAS before making a claim against their employer. ACAS will then go through the Early Conciliation service to try to resolve the claim before it goes to court.

Early Conciliation is almost a form of negotiation where ACAS will attempt to bring both parties to a settlement. This service will be used to help resolve almost all of the types of employment claims including unfair dismissal and discrimination. But limited types of claim will be exempt from Early Conciliation, such as those involving multiple claimants, interim relief applications and claims against insolvent employers. It will be quicker, cheaper and less stressful than attending a tribunal hearing. The Conciliator will not take sides, or attempt to judge who is right or wrong but they will help to clarify the law.

If an individual attempts to proceed straight to a tribunal claim, then that claim will be automatically dismissed and it will not be treated as received by the tribunal within the time limits.

A tribunal case can only be issued once ACAS has issued a certificate that will include a unique reference number. This number must be included on the claim form and it will be checked by the tribunal to ensure it relates to the same two parties.

A certificate will be issued if:

  • Contact with the individual is not possible; or if
  • The employee or employer refuses to explore Early Conciliation; or if
  • After one month attempts to conciliate have failed.

Most employment claims must be issued within three months of the act complained of. During Early Conciliation there are rules that will extend the time limit but unfortunately these rules are not always clear.

Please contact a member of the Employment team to seek legal advice on any possible employment claims and to ensure that you act within the time limits.