The employment tribunal has made the use of Acas mandatory to resolve disputes, but do you know who they are and what they do?
What is Acas?
Acas or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service provides advice, training and conciliation services to both employers and employees, to resolve and reduce workplace disputes. When it comes to employment claims, Acas acts to provide impartial and independent legal advice to attempt to broker a deal between you and your employer. This service is on par with arbitration and is totally free. Acas offers a free helpline which can advise on the assistance it offers: 0300 123 1100.
When does Acas become involved in your claim?
When you wish to lodge a claim with the employment tribunal you must inform Acas first. This is done via the completion and lodging of the Early Conciliation Form.
When completing the form, it is key that you provide as much detail as you can about the dispute and also vital that you provide the name and address of your employer. But note that you must complete a separate form for each person or company you are complaining about.
What are the timescales?
You have a deadline of three months to bring a claim, but this is effectively frozen when you file an Early Conciliation Form. Therefore, you do not have to issue a claim before those three months are up.
Acas will review the information and contact you with further advice on the matter. Upon making an application, the organisation’s system will generate a completion month, however with any negotiation process the timescales are hard to predict as it is completely reliant on the parties.
What if the Acas process fails?
If you cannot reach settlement with your employer, you will be issued with a certificate stating this. When you receive this document that you can issue a claim with the employment tribunal. The claim can be completed online, and the unique number on the certificate is needed when completing your application.
Are there any exemptions to using Acas?
There are times when you may not be required to use Acas services. For example, when…
- You are making the claim with another person who has already been through early conciliation.
- Your employer has already been in touch with Acas - you will need to provide evidence of this.
- Your claim is against the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service or GCHQ.
Whilst Acas is a service which can supply you with free advice about your claim, you may still wish to seek independent legal advice about the process if you feel unsure or whether you think the service is not clear in any way.