Employment law 2014 preview: tribunal reform

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In an effort to get more workplace disputes resolved without the need for judicial intervention, from 6 April 2014 the majority of prospective claimants will be required to contact Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) before they can lodge proceedings at the employment tribunal.

While the aim is conciliation, not litigation, the new requirement is merely to contact Acas, rather than actually take part in pre-claim conciliation. Once Acas has been contacted, the decision to participate in early conciliation will be entirely voluntary for both the employee and the employer.

Under the proposed two-stage process, a potential claimant will simply need to provide basic contact details. Details of the claim itself are not required. An early conciliation support officer (ECSO) will then make ‘reasonable efforts’ to contact the potential claimant to obtain basic information and outline the conciliation process. If the claimant does not wish to participate in early conciliation after being contacted or cannot be contacted (deemed refusal), Acas will issue a certificate confirming the claimant complied with their duty to contact Acas. They will then be able to present a claim to a tribunal…

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