Acas has published a report which shows that a quarter of claimants who could not settle their case with their employer through Early Conciliation (EC) were put off from lodging a claim because of the fee.

The research paper - Evaluation of Acas Early Conciliation 2015 - also found that nearly half of all claimants (48 per cent) who used EC during its first year of operation either reached a formal settlement or were helped by Acas to avoid a tribunal claim in some other way.

Further findings include the following:

  • A large majority (96 per cent) of claimants and their representatives who agreed a financial sum as part of their settlement confirmed that it had been paid; this compares favourably to claimants given a financial award at tribunal, where only two thirds (63 per cent) said that they had received their payment.
  • Among claimants and their representatives who could not settle their case through EC and did not go to tribunal, around a quarter (26 per cent) said that their reason for not then lodging a tribunal claim was that tribunal fees deterred them from doing so.
  • Claimants and their representatives who declined EC said this was because the issue was resolved when Acas assistance was offered, or that they felt that conciliation would not resolve their issue, or they felt that their employer would not be willing to engage. Over half of employers and their representatives who declined EC said it was because they felt they had no case to answer.
  • EC saved claimants time compared to going to tribunal as they only spent six hours on their dispute on average, compared to six days spent on disputes during employment tribunal cases.

The law changed last year so that anyone thinking of making an tribunal claim has to notify Acas first. It then tries to resolve the dispute without the need for legal action through its free EC service.

The research was based on a representative survey of claimants, employers and representatives whose EC cases concluded in September to November 2014; 1,337 claimant-side interviews and 1,255 employer-side interviews were conducted. The research was undertaken on behalf of Acas by an independent social research agency.

Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors said “This representative study provides clear evidence workers do not pursue Tribunal claims because of the fee they are being asked to pay. This prevents these individuals from having their claims heard in situations when an employer may have acted unlawfully. This often means that the issue will remain unresolved and that does benefit the employer either. Employer Tribunal fees are a barrier to justice and should be abolished.”

To read the paper in full, go to: