Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Will Pre-Claim ACAS Conciliation Reduce Tribunal Claims?

New Rules to Promote Settlement of Employment Claims 
  
From 6th April 2014 prospective claimants will have to contact ACAS and allow them to promote settlement before being permitted to lodge a claim with the Employment Tribunal.  Whilst parties will not be forced to engage in conciliation, they will have to wait until the process has been exhausted before going any further, giving ACAS the opportunity to explore the possibility of settlement.

The normal conciliation period will be one calendar month, but an ACAS officer can extend this period by a further 14 days if he or she believes that there are realistic prospects of a settlement and both parties agree to the extension.  However, the ACAS officer could also cut short the conciliation period if he or she believes there are no real prospects of a settlement being reached.

If this process does not result in settlement, the claimant will be issued with an early conciliation certificate containing a unique reference number.  The claimant will not be able to lodge a tribunal claim without a valid reference number.

The introduction of fees in the Employment Tribunal in July last year, resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of claims being presented.  Anecdotally it would appear that the fees regime has made low value or "woolly" claims less likely to occur.  

It will be very interesting to see what effect the new conciliation process will have and whether there may be an increase in these sorts of low level claims being pursued at this stage where there is no cost to the claimant.   

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Employment Tribunal Claims Down by Nearly 80%

Tribunal Statistics and the Impact of Fees 
  
Employment tribunal claims slumped by 79 percent in the last quarter of 2013 following the government's introduction of employment tribunal fees.

Many of you will recall that fees for bringing a claim were introduced last summer for the first time, with employees having to shell out £1,200 for claims of unfair dismissal or discrimination. The qualifying period to claim for unfair dismissal has also now increased from one year to two years.

The team here at KSA has concerns.... Kate's view: "Clearly, the introduction of fees has prevented a number of employees from bringing claims to an employment tribunal.  Which for many is seen a good thing. However, if employees feel that they aren't able to pursue claims in an employment tribunal they may look to do so in other ways, such as joining trade unions to follow issues through. The work we do within organisations is about promoting positive working environments and only time will tell if this is a constructive step towards promoting a productive working culture."

The recent statistics can be viewed here.