ACAS early conciliation

If your employment has ended, or you have raised a formal grievance and still want to take things further, the next step is ACAS early conciliation.

Before taking a claim to the Employment Tribunal you must contact ACAS regarding early conciliation. There are a few exceptions to the requirement to contact ACAS, and details of these can be found together with other information and a link to the individual application form for Early Conciliation on the ACAS website.

Once you have made your request for early conciliation, you will be sent an email asking you to contact ACAS, which you should do as soon as possible. If you agree to participate in early conciliation, a conciliator will be appointed and they will contact you about your case. They will then contact your employer and try to negotiate a settlement. If an agreement is reached, it will be recorded on a COT3 form, and it will be legally binding and enforceable. If your employer does not pay, in the first instance you could speak to the ACAS conciliator, but if payment is still not forthcoming you may need to enforce the agreement. Information about enforcement, and the forms to complete, can be found on gov.uk.

ACAS have 1 month from the date that you contact them to try and reach an agreement between both sides. This can be extended by 2 weeks in some circumstances. If it is not possible to reach an agreement, ACAS will issue an Early Conciliation Certificate, which you will need in order to submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

Early conciliation and time limits

Submitting an early conciliation request ‘stops the clock’ in respect of the time limit for taking a claim to the Employment Tribunal. The effect of early conciliation on time limits differs according to when a request for early conciliation is submitted.

  • If you submit your early conciliation request less than one month before the date the original time limit expires, then you will have 1 month from the date conciliation ends in which to submit your completed Employment Tribunal claim form to the Employment Tribunal.
  • If you submit the early conciliation request more than one month before the original deadline expires, then the deadline is extended by the time taken to complete the conciliation period. For example, if the conciliation period lasts a week, the deadline will be extended by a week.
  • You will always have at least a  month after early conciliation ends in which to issue your claim at the Employment Tribunal.  It may still be possible to reach agreement with your employer during that time.

After early conciliation has ended, if no settlement has been reached you should consider carefully whether to take a claim to the Employment Tribunal. Your employer’s response to early conciliation may give you a good indication of how they are likely to respond to a Tribunal claim.  If you are uncertain, you can take legal advice.