As a result of The Dispute Resolution Review published in 2007 Acas expanded its Pre-Claim Conciliation Service nationally and in October 2009 the service was extended to cover all employment tribunal jurisdictions.
The aim of the service is to resolve cases swiftly and with minimum formality before they escalate in to litigation. Figures released by Acas show that nearly 6,000 cases have been referred, 40% of which have been resolved. These resolutions have come quickly with the average duration for fast track (mainly wages) claims being 10 days, standard claims (mainly unfair dismissal) 17 days and for open track (discrimination) 19 days.
The service can be requested by anyone who is or might be involved, or advising people who are involved, in a workplace dispute provided they:
- have already tried to resolve the problem internally for example through disciplinary and grievance procedures;
- believe the dispute is likely to end in a tribunal claim; and
- they are prepared to discuss the problem in good faith with a view to finding a solution.
The service is voluntary and must be agreed to by both parties. It is also confidential, impartial, independent and free. If the problem is not resolved the employee is still entitled to put a claim in to the employment tribunal although in Acas’ experience a significant number do not pursue claims.