It’s E-day. An early reminder of vital changes for work disputes

Sally McCartney (pictured), a partner and employment lawyer with Kippen Campbell in Perth, and a member of United Employment Lawyers, explains why 6th May 2014 is a significant date.

Today – 6th May 2014 – is E-day for anyone involved in an employment dispute. Of course, the ‘E’ stands for Early Conciliation.

While Early Conciliation through ACAS in employment disputes has been optional since April 2014 as of 6th May it is a compulsory requirement for anyone intending to make an employment tribunal claim, to notify ACAS first.

Notification must be made to ACAS in a prescribed form and can be submitted by a potential claimant on line through the ACAS website, although notification can also be made by post or at the telephone.

After a form is submitted it will automatically be acknowledged by ACAS and they will then, within two days of receiving the form, contact the claimant to attain more information about the dispute and to advise the claimant upon the Early Conciliation Process.

Each case will have an ACAS conciliator appointed. The conciliator will make contact with the potential respondent and liaise between the parties with a view to resolving the dispute.

The period for conciliation is up to one month starting on the date that ACAS receive the completed Early Conciliation form (or telephone call) from the prospective claimant and during the course of the conciliation period the prospective claimant’s limitation period for making a tribunal claim is put on hold.

The period for conciliation can be extended only once for a maximum period of 14 days provided that both the potential claimant and the respondent agree to such an extension and the conciliating officer believes that there is a reasonable prospect of achieving settlement before the expiry of the extended period.

If at any stage during the process the conciliation officer concludes that a settlement of the dispute is not possible then ACAS will issue an Early Conciliation certificate. If the conciliation period (and any extension thereto) expires without settlement having been reached ACAS will issue the Early Concillaition certificate at that time.

Once the Early Conciliation certificate has been issued the ‘sist’ on the claimant’s limitation period for making a Tribunal Claim is lifted and if the claimant choses to proceed with his or her claim an application should be made using an ET1 to the Employment Tribunal in the usual way.

ACAS is keen to point out notwithstanding this formal procedure conciliation will still be offered by them after an ET1 has been presented.