Date Published: Thursday 17th April 2014
As of the 6th April 2014, new employment tribunal laws came into force. The rule that took effect aims to reduce the number of claims staff are making against their employer and going to an employment tribunal.
Previously, employees could take their case straight to employment tribunal. However, the new procedure forces employees to notify ACAS to see if the dispute can be resolved. ACAS is a conciliation and arbitration service which delivers advice, training and guidance, for both employers and employees to help resolve workplace problems.
Employment relations Minister Jenny Willott said ‘it will help resolve their workplace disputes, avoiding the stress, time, delays and excessive costs all too often associated with tribunal’.
So what exactly is changing?
Previsouly, ACAS was only notified of a claim once tribunal proceedings were issued. Now, employees are expected to contact ACAS in the first instance before the claim is lodged at the tribunal. ACAS will then review the claim and issue a ‘conciliation certificate’ when the employee can then lodge their claim.
What process should be followed?
ACAS will need to be provided with the basic details of the claim including contact details. The notification will need to be made within the normal time limit for bringing a claim: three months less one day for routine unfair dismissal cases.
ACAS will try to call you by the end of the following day to confirm the information provided and to explain the conciliation process. Following this call, you will also receive a call from an ACAS conciliator to obtain consent to approach the employer in order to try and settle the case.
If you do not provide consent or the employer does not wish to engage in the process, the case will be closed and an early conciliation certificate will be issued. At this point the claim can be lodged.
After you initially contact ACAS, the time limit for making a claim is paused for one month plus 14 days if more time is needed for conciliation. Once the conciliation certificate is received, the time limit will start to run again and you have one month to lodge your claim
In addition to this new rule, another change in the law has been implemented meaning that if an employer loses a case brought by an employee, and the employer is shown to have poor workplace practice, they will be issued with a fine of up to £5,000 in addition to any pay due to the employee.
These rules aim to reduce bad workplace practice and reduce the time and stress involved with a tribunal claim.
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