Over recent months I have spoken to lots of clients about lodging claims in the Employment Tribunal. By the time they speak to me their time limit may be fast approaching and as such, some have already obtained ACAS Early Conciliation certificates. Read my post for essential information about ACAS Early Conciliation and why it might be best to contact me prior to obtaining your certificate.
What is ACAS Early Conciliation?
ACAS Early Conciliation is a compulsory alternative dispute resolution process which any potential Claimant to the Employment Tribunal must go through. You can register for early conciliation on the ACAS website (www.acas.gov.uk). After this, ACAS will nominate one of their conciliators to act as a go between and mediate between the potential parties to an Employment Tribunal claim.
If both parties are willing to negotiate, ACAS can help achieve a settlement which will be recorded in an ACAS COT3 settlement agreement. This will bring any potential claim to an end. I always advise clients to take specialist employment law advice before entering into an ACAS settlement to make sure their potential claims are not being undervalued and settled for less than their worth.
If settlement cannot be reached, the conciliation ends, and an ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate is issued. The details on that Certificate are critical for Claimants when submitting claims in the Employment Tribunal.
Who is the Correct Respondent?
It is really important to log the correct name of the Respondent when engaging in ACAS Early Conciliation.
You might think this is straightforward and obvious. I can assure you that it is not. The name of your employer should appear on your contract of employment, your wage slip, correspondence from them, or your P45. Checking these documents to get the correct detail is essential. Once you have obtained the correct name of your employer, you should then make sure they are a legal entity. I always undertake a companies house check to validate employer details. If the employer is not a limited company, then you will need to make sure the individual, charity or partnership etc… is properly listed.
Even carrying out the above checks can cause issues. I have clients who had details of one employer on their contract, but another on a wage slip. Other clients who have been TUPE transferred and are unsure who presently employs them. In the event of any possible dispute ensure you get ACAS Early Conciliation Certificates for each possible Respondent. If you cannot resolve the employer details prior to lodging the claim, then you will need to add in multiple Respondents on the claim form but at least you will have the appropriate ACAS certificates for them all. These issues can be later resolved in the proceedings by the Respondent confirming their position. Bear in mind for some claims (such as discrimination), claims can be pursued against individuals and so an ACAS Early Conciliation Certificate will be required for them too.
My best guidance on this issue is that it is better to be safe than sorry. If you are at all unsure about who your employer is, get certificates for each possibility.
The time limit for pursuing most claims in the Employment Tribunal is very short. Three months less one day from the date of dismissal or act complained of. If there are a series of acts, potential Claimants can use the date of the last act subject to there being no break in the chain.
As potential Claimants must start the ACAS Early Conciliation process prior to lodging any claim, this means acting very quickly following dismissal or the act complained about.
The ACAS Early Conciliation process must be commenced within that initial three month period from dismissal or act complained of. Depending on when ACAS Early Conciliation begins and how long the parties go through the conciliation process, a short extension to the original time limit could be possible. That said, I would always advise clients to contact me for specific time limit guidance.
Can Lincs Law Employment Solicitors Help You?
If you are going through ACAS Early Conciliation or have received an offer to settle your Employment Tribunal claim, please call for a free no obligation discussion on 01522 440412. For more information about Employment Tribunal claims, please visit our website at https://lincslaw.co.uk/services/employees/employment-tribunal-claims/
Director, Specialist Employment Law Solicitor