The proposed pre-claim conciliation procedure is as follows:
Prospective claimants will complete an application form and submit it to Acas. This will ‘stop the clock’ on the relevant limitation periods to present claims to a tribunal.
Acas will make reasonable attempts to contact the parties to enquire whether they would be interested in conciliation. If either party refuses, an Early Conciliation Certificate will be issued, the claim can be lodged at an employment tribunal and the ‘clock’ will re-start. If the parties agree to conciliation the matter will be passed to an Acas Conciliator.
The parties will have one month, which can be extended by a further two weeks, to reach a settlement. The settlement can be confirmed through a COT3 agreement (an agreement made through Acas that is binding on the parties) or through a compromise agreement, which will be renamed ‘settlement agreement’ (an agreement binding on the parties once the claimant has taken legal advice and both parties have signed it). If a settlement is not reached, Acas will issue an Early Conciliation Certificate, the matter can proceed to an employment tribunal and the ‘clock’ will re-start.
The procedure is part of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which is progressing through Parliament. It will be introduced through new regulations, with a proposed implementation date of spring 2014.
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