Early Conciliation Guide

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis

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22 Feb 2019

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When working in a large organisation or within a big team, there’s bound to be some disagreements or conflict between employees.

With individuals from diverse backgrounds, it’s unlikely that everyone would share the same goals and objectives.

Conciliation is where two or more individuals use an independent source to try to settle their differences. To settle disputes among employees or between yourself and other staff members, you’ll need to contact a conciliator.

The independent body in-charge of conciliations in the workplace is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

To meet the early conciliation time limit, employees will have to approach Acas up to three months after the incident occurred.

What is early conciliation?

It’s this system intended to help resolve disputes between you and your workers. After an internal grievance procedure, it is the next step before the need for involving an employment tribunal.

The government introduced early conciliation to reduce the number of claims going through the employment tribunal.

According to the regulations set in place in 2014, employees are now required to contact Acas first to try to resolve disputes before issuing a claim at the employment tribunal.

After submitting an early conciliation form with Acas, the time limits vary, but is normally a one month wait period where they’ll attempt to settle the dispute.

 They also have the power to expand the wait period (by up to two weeks) if they deem it necessary. In most cases, this process will happen over the phone or by email so there’s no need for both parties to meet.

Conciliation VS mediation

These two are similar and often interchangeable. A conciliation allows the conciliator to make the final decision in a dispute resolution.

While mediation involves discussions with a trained mediator in a controlled environment.

Mediators can be from within the business, but it’s always best to bring in an external mediator to avoid claims of bias.

Causes of conflict

There are a variety of issues that can cause conflict between yourself and other employees including:

  • Unfair treatment
  • Poor management.
  • Poor communication.
  • Bullying and harassment.
  • Lack of equal opportunities.
  • Inadequate training.
  • Unclear job roles. 

Benefits of early conciliation

A benefit of early conciliation is the cost and time involved with going through an employment tribunal for all parties involved.

Taking a claim through to an employment tribunal can be stressful, expensive and time-consuming.

Conciliation avoids this by attempting to settle disputes in an effective and efficient manner before the need for a tribunal.

Early conciliation settlements

This is a legally binding contract between the parties involved in the claim. It might involve a promise to pay your employee a sum of money, stop treating them unlawfully or both.

Acas has a process in place for enforcing payments due to employees under the settlement. If the settlement payment still isn't made, then the conciliator can get the contract enforced by the courts.

Limitations of early conciliation

A limitation for businesses is that an employee might use the process to artificially extend the tribunal time limit (three months’ average) giving them the time and opportunity to seek legal advice and further prepare for the claim.

Expert support

Dealing with disputes and conciliations at work can be a long winded process. We can offer you up-to-date advice and guide you through the process. Call Croner on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis is the senior manager of the Litigation and Employment Department and assumes additional responsibility for managing Croner’s office based telephone HR advisory teams, who specialise in Employment law, HR and Commercial Legal advice for large organisations across the United Kingdom.

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Andrew Willis

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