Early conciliation (“EC”) has been mandatory for most claims since 6 May 2014. EC requires an employee who is contemplating starting a claim against their employer in the Employment Tribunal (“ET”) to consider settling the case before commencing proceedings.
It is now very important that companies take care when receiving a call from Acas. Acas (for various reasons) will often not try to involve themselves in the strengths and weaknesses of any claim and neither will they give a claimant any advice or assistance in understanding what is a realistic value of their claim, this is not part of the Acas remit. They will in effect simply pass on the views of the claimant about the merits of the case and the compensation which the claimant wants, even if this is without merit and outside any of the principles which would be applied by an ET Judge.
It is therefore very important that if you receive any telephone calls from Acas that you recognise how serious these negotiations might be. It is extremely important to ask for legal guidance as it is only with the benefit of that advice, will you as the employer be able to understand the claims the employee might bring and how much an ET might award in compensation if the claim is successful.
Therefore if you receive a call from Acas, we suggest you make a note of the name of the Acas officer, their telephone number and the name of the employee/ex-employee who is contemplating a claim and then call us for further advice. If there is the potential for other people to receive such a call such as line managers, we suggest you make them aware of this too.
Please be aware, you are not obliged to take part in EC if you do not wish to. Again this is something we will discuss with you at the time.