Acas last week published the figures for the number of notifications it received since early conciliation was introduced on a voluntary basis in April 2014. In May, it became compulsory for anyone wanting to make a Tribunal claim to first notify Acas in order to try and resolve their dispute before continuing with the claim.

The figures showed there were approximately 960 notifications a week in April 2014. The figure then increased to around 1,600 per week from May to August, increasing further to around 1,800 per week from September to December. Acas believes that the most recent increase reflects the impact of decisions relating to the calculation of holiday pay. Acas received about 2,300 notifications covering over 11,000 individuals relating to this type of case between mid-August and the end of December.

Overall, the figures show that Acas received just over 3,700 notifications from employees in April (127 from employers) increasing to just over 7,200 in December (166 from employers), peaking at 7,617 in October. In total Acas has received almost 60,000 notifications from employees since early conciliation was introduced in April (almost 2,000 in total from employers).

Almost all the notifications received by Acas in the first six months have now reached an outcome - of those, just over 16 per cent were settled through a legal document known as a COT3; 60.5 per cent did not progress to a Tribunal claim (for instance, the employee may have decided not to take the matter further or reached an informal agreement with the employer); while just over 23 per cent went on to be heard in a Tribunal.

The aim of early conciliation is to allow time for discussions to see if those involved can reach an agreement. During this time Acas has a legal duty to offer conciliation, but the parties do not have to accept the offer. Once a notification is made to Acas, there is an extension to the legal time limit within which the claimant would need to bring a Tribunal claim, should they decide to do so.

Neil Todd from Thompsons Solicitors commented: “These figure demonstrate that 60.5% of claims that have gone through early conciliation do not proceed to a Tribunal and are not resolved by way of a formal COT agreement. It is concerning, therefore, that many of the claims which prompt a notification to Acas are not being resolved in the workplace but that employees are also being deterred from lodging Tribunal claims because of the introduction of Tribunal fees. Workers’ problems are therefore remaining unresolved. This leads to inharmonious and unproductive working environments from which neither employees nor employers benefit.”

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