UEL welcomes early dispute resolution as way forward for UK’s employment matters

The introduction of Early Conciliation today (6 April) is a significant step which will help thousands who face uncertainty over their future in the workplace, says the founder of United Employment Lawyers.

Malcolm Mackay, the chairman of UEL, says: “This is a significant step change across the UK that is to be welcomed. Anything that resolves disputes at an early stage must be better for all those involved. Of course, the Employment Tribunal still remains the final resort for disputes that cannot be easily resolved.”

“If it saves employers and employees the stress, cost and anxiety associated with the employment tribunal process it has to be something positive.”

Independent analysis found that Acas’ free early dispute resolution service, Pre Claim Conciliation, has benefited the UK economy by around £19 million, with the PCC service handling around 20,000 cases a year since it began in 2009. Over three quarters of these do not go on to an Employment Tribunal.

From 6th April, Early Conciliation takes over from PCC and anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim will first need to notify Acas. Acas will then try and resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action through this new free service that builds on the success of PCC.

Malcolm Mackay says: “The economic benefits of dealing with workplace disputes at the earliest opportunity are apparent. Early Conciliation now gives people the chance to resolve their disputes before they escalate. However, I still think it is important for people to seek proper legal advice when involved with a workplace dispute.”

Independent research on PCC shows it saves employers on average £3,200 in management time and legal costs compared to dealing with an employment tribunal case. Analysis found that for every pound spent on PCC, at least £5 was returned to the economy, which translated to nearly £19 million for the year that PCC had been running since its launch in 2009.

An evaluation of PCC and Acas’ individual conciliation service released showed that:

  • Nearly nine out of ten employers who used PCC said that they would use it again;
  • Two thirds of employees would advise a friend or relative to use PCC if they were involved in a similar dispute;
  • Eight out of ten users said that Acas was important in helping to resolve their dispute;
  • Service users reported that PCC was cheaper, easier or more convenient, less traumatic or stressful and resolved their issue more quickly than submitting an employment tribunal claim;
  • Eight out of ten respondents said that their conciliator did not take sides and were even handed;
  • Eight out of ten respondents said that their conciliator listened to what they had to say; and

A fifth of employers reported that Acas had provided them with information or advice that they thought would help them to avoid a similar claim in the future. The same proportion also said that they had made a change to their policies or procedures as a consequence of the guidance received from the Acas conciliator.