What is the Acas early conciliation process?
Before submitting a claim to the employment tribunal, a prospective claimant must contact Acas. Acas will attempt to reach a settlement in the matter by contacting the parties, talking through the issues and exploring ways of resolving the dispute.
If Acas concludes that a settlement is not possible, or the one-month conciliation period expires without a settlement being reached, it will issue an early conciliation certificate to the prospective claimant. The conciliation period may be extended for a maximum of 14 days if the parties agree and the conciliator considers that there is a reasonable prospect of achieving a settlement before the extension expires.
From 1 December 2020, the conciliation period will increase to six weeks and the option for a 14-day extension will no longer apply.
The prospective claimant cannot submit a claim to the employment tribunal without an early conciliation certificate.
The time limit for submitting an employment tribunal claim is extended to account for the early conciliation process. In effect, the clock is paused while the conciliation process is underway. The period beginning on the day after the prospective claimant contacts Acas and ending on the day on which they receive the early conciliation certificate is discounted when calculating a time limit. If the time limit would have expired during the time between the employee first contacting Acas and one month after receipt of the early conciliation certificate, it will be extended to expire one month after receipt of the early conciliation certificate.