Last updated: 30th November 2021
Before you can bring a claim at Employment Tribunal you must go through the mandatory process of registering your case with ACAS Early Conciliation.
ACAS Early Conciliation is the beginning of the legal process in advancing your claim at Employment Tribunal. As such, it is essential that you get it right and ensure the information you submit is correct.
This quick and easy guide is designed to help you understand the process and how to move forward with your claim.
What is ACAS?
ACAS stands for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.
It is a government funded organisation established to help resolve disputes between employees and their employers.
What is their purpose?
The aim of the ACAS process is to help both sides resolve their dispute without the need of the Employment Tribunal.
Your ACAS representative will look to negotiate solutions to meet this end. Such solutions could include:
- Your re-instatement
- A financial settlement
- Job references
What is the process of early conciliation?
The first stage of the process is to ‘register your claim’ with ACAS.
As an individual employee you can do this via the link below:
In cases relating to a group claim where there is more than one claimant, you would need to call ACAS, using the following:
Acas early conciliation support
Telephone: 0300 123 1122
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Essential To Know
Although registering your claim with ACAS is a mandatory requirement, ACAS is not part of the tribunal service.
Your ACAS representative will not discuss your claim with the Employment Tribunal.
When you register your claim you will be asked to fill out the ACAS form.
You will be asked to provide certain information about yourself (the claimant) and your employer (the respondent). You can also provide details of your legal representative.
Essential To Know
When you complete and send your form to ACAS, you are not applying to the Employment Tribunal.
The information you submit is confidential.
At this stage ACAS will also give you the option to forego ACAS early conciliation and move straight to taking your dispute to the tribunal. However you are still required to register your dispute with them in order to receive your employment tribunal certificate from ACAS. You cannot proceed to tribunal without this.
ACAS will then contact you (or your solicitor) to obtain more details relating to the specifics of your complaint/dispute against your employer.
It is often useful to have a lawyer available to assist with this process, as their knowledge of employment law will help to identify all and any claims you may have against your employer.
This will help maximise the value of your claim.
Your solicitor is able to undertake the ACAS early conciliation on your behalf.
At Tribunal Claim, our employment law solicitors do this for many of our clients who we have agreed to represent on a no win no fee basis.
Once you or your solicitor has provided the details of your complaint/dispute, ACAS will attempt to contact your employer to see whether they are interested in reaching some form of settlement with you, or would prefer to proceed directly to tribunal.
If both parties are able to reach a settlement at ACAS early conciliation stage, a document will be produced called a COT3 Agreement in which the terms of settlement are recorded.
COT stands for ‘compromise of tribunal’.
Essential To Know
Once the parties have agreed terms, ACAS have the power to declare that the settlement is legally binding.
Thereafter, the parties are simply required to adhere to the terms of settlement.
Such a settlement normally requires your employer to pay you an agreed sum of money. This is typically in exchange for your agreement to keep the terms of settlement agreement confidential, and for you not to make any disparaging comments about your employer.
Below is the ACAS settlement agreement template as set out in their settlement agreement guidance and templates:
In more complex cases COT3 settlement agreements can take longer to achieve, but in our experience there is no reason why these agreements can not be very simple.
Essential To Know
If you manage to settle your claim via ACAS early conciliation, it will be in ‘full and final settlement’ of all and any legal claims you may have against your employer.
In agreeing to pay you the settlement sum, your employer wants closure and a clean break from any possible future litigation.
PLEASE REMEMBER: When considering settling a claim under a COT3 agreement whether or not you wish to reserve your right to pursue another type of claim against your employer. For example, a personal injury claim.
Many employees feel that they have a personal injury claim against their employer. This may be for example, as a result of:
- a physical injury they sustained at work
- an industrial disease they sustained in the workplace
- a mental injury they believe their employer has caused them
Essential To Know
Before entering into any form of settlement with your employer it is very important that you carve out (or retain) the ability to pursue such a claim after the settlement agreement has been signed.
If the ACAS early conciliation process is unsuccessful (i.e your employer does not wish to engage in settlement discussions, or is unable to make an offer you are happy with), then ACAS will send you an ACAS certificate.
This certificate is important as it states when you registered your case and when the ACAS early conciliation process concluded.
Whilst your claim is with ACAS, the normal 3 month time limit for commencing legal action in the Employment is paused.
You should take legal advice on the impact of the ACAS process on your tribunal deadlines.
Feel free to use our handy Employment Tribunal Time Limits Calculator to work out the date you must have submitted your ET1 form to the Tribunal.
Remember that the 3 month time limit commences on the date of the thing that you have complained of. This ‘thing’ could be the date of:
- your resignation (constructive dismissal)
- your dismissal
- the discriminatory treatment you complained of
- the unlawful deduction of wages
It is also worth remembering that there may be more than one deadline applicable to your claim.
For example, you may have two types of claim. The deadline for your discriminatory treatment may be earlier than the deadline for your constructive dismissal claim (should you subsequently resign in response to that discriminatory treatment).
Where you are unsure about deadlines, you should take early legal advice.
What to do next
Prior to commencing the ACAS early conciliation process, you may wish to consider contacting us in order that we can maximise your chances of recovering a decent amount of compensation from your employer.
In many cases we are able to represent you during the ACAS process on a no win no fee basis.
Where we are able to settle your claim at this stage, we offer a reduced fee of 20% (inclusive of VAT).
Once we receive your details we will respond to you within 48 hours via telephone, email or text.