A consultation on implementation of the proposed ACAS early conciliation (EC) process, a measure contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill currently going through Parliament, closes on 15 February.

This is one of the three-week consultations which the government has allowed itself to carry out by amending the consultation guidelines.

BIS is seeking views on: 

  • The content of the form that must be completed by potential employment tribunal claimants;
  • The information that claimants are required to provide about the nature of the dispute;
  • Whether there are other jurisdictions where EC would not be appropriate;
  • Whether the EC Support Officer (ECSO) model is appropriate;
  • Whether there should be a limit on the number of attempts, or length time, in respect of ACAS’ attempts to contact the prospective claimant and, where relevant, the prospective respondent;
  • The contents of the EC Certificate;
  • Proposals for handling prospective respondent requests for EC.

In its response to the consultation, Thompsons warns that while the majority of the measures proposed are workable if improvements are made,  the government appears to have fundamentally misunderstood the reality of how multiple claims are collated, prepared and run.

Iain Birrell of Thompsons said: “In our view, the provisions relating to multiple claims will create the sort of confusion, satellite litigation and injustice that was the hallmark of the discredited statutory dispute resolution procedures.”

Thompsons also warns that unless the format of the form that claimants must complete is amended so that it is clear if the claimant has a representative, then confidence in the EC system will be undermined by ACAS wrongly contacting individuals directly or if the impression is given that an attempt is being made to bypass the representative in seeking agreement.

Read Thompsons response to these proposals or download a pdf version