Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Has the ACAS early conciliation process worked?

ACAS has recently published a lengthy research paper on the effect of its conciliation processes in employment tribunal claims.

Our policies cover the costs of legal representation for claimants and employers throughout the early conciliation process and beyond. We have looked in some detail at the research and while we think it's really worthwhile to share the findings with you, due to the volume of information, we are going to divide our blog into two posts. In the first post below we outline the background to the research and provide details of the profile of claimants.

ACAS Research – Part 1

Since July 2013, claimants who make a new Employment Tribunal (ET) claim have been required to pay a fee. The amount of the fee varies depending on the type of claim. ET claim volumes fell dramatically following the introduction of fees – steeply at first, but with rate of decline starting to slow thereafter and latterly stabilising. For the financial year 2015/16 there has been a levelling out in the number of individual claims. In April to June 2015 there was an uplift of 19% from the previous year; July to September saw an uplift of 4% and October to December less than 1%.

From  May 2014, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 requires that employees intending to lodge an ET claim must contact Acas first, to see if the dispute could be resolved through  ‘Early Conciliation’ (EC) which is facilitated by  Acas.
For cases that are not resolved through EC that continue on the path to an Employment Tribunal, Acas conciliation is again offered in what is now known as post-ET1 conciliation (formerly known as Individual Conciliation (IC)).

Profile of claimants participating in the Survey
Assuming the claimants participating in the Survey are representative, this provided some interesting figures regarding the sort of individuals and companies most likely to find themselves involved in an Employment tribunal:
  • 79% worked full-time for the employer they made their claim against
  • 80% of claimants had worked for their employer for at least one year or more, with 22% having worked for more than 10 years. 
  • In comparison to the working population, claimants are less likely to be from professional occupations, and more likely to be from associate professional and technical occupations.
  • 19% were a member of a Trade Union.
  • 57% of claimants were male, slightly higher than the proportion of men in the working population (53%). 
  • 81% of claimants were over 35, compared with 63% of the working population.
  • 28% of claimants reported having a long-term illness, health problem or disability, slightly higher than the equivalent figure for the working population (21%),
  • A Representative is used by 78% of claimants at the ET1 stage, but only 24% at the EC stage. The ET1 stage tending to have  a far higher % of  ‘formal’ representatives (including solicitors, barristers and lawyers, as well as Trade Union and working representatives) as opposed to friends, neighbours or family members.
  • 66% of claimants (and their representatives) reported that EC had previously taken place in their case prior to the submission of the ET claim.
  • 83% of employers interviewed operated within the private sector, and 37 per cent operated in large organisations (with 250 or more employees). 67% had an internal Human Resources (HR) department, 36% had an internal legal department, 28% were members of an employer’s or trade association. (Any organisation of any size is therefore susceptible to Employment situations. All businesses remain vulnerable even if they have their own HR or legal resources). 

The ACAS research paper reports the findings of an evaluation of the post-ET1 conciliation offer.

Watch out for Part 2 of this blog in which we tell you more about how businesses and claimants felt about early conciliation and the outcomes.

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