Last week, we tweeted an update on employment tribunal statistics. This week, ACAS have published their statistics for the same period, and on balance, the news is quite positive for employers.
By way of background, before any claim can proceed to the employment tribunal, ACAS must provide a certificate which confirms that efforts have been made to conciliate and to settle the claim, but that these have been unsuccessful. This process is called Early Conciliation. The amount of effort that a claimant and/or respondent puts into Early Conciliation with ACAS tends to vary depending on the nature of the claim and the likelihood of it succeeding (or otherwise). Nevertheless, the process must at least be attempted and as such, ACAS' statistics are a valuable insight to how the abolition of tribunal fees have affected the number of threatened claims versus those that actually proceed to tribunal.
The statistics show that:
• In the second quarter of 2017, ACAS were receiving around 1700 notifications per week. After the abolition of tribunal fees, this increased to 2200 notifications per week.
• ACAS Early Conciliation was only successful in 17% of cases in the period between April and December 2017. However, of the remainder, only 26% of cases actually proceeded to tribunal in any event.
• Of the 26%, 1 in 5 claims were subsequently settled through ACAS (before a hearing took place).
Whilst there is no doubt that the abolition of fees has increased the number of claims, employers can take comfort that 1) ACAS are continuing to manage to settle a good portion of claims through Early Conciliation and subsequent efforts, and 2) the inconvenience and other costs of taking a claim to tribunal appear to remain a deterrent to dispose of spurious claims.
We appreciate that having a claim on the horizon can be a daunting prospect. Nevertheless, if you are contacted by ACAS, it is vitally important that you do not ignore it, especially as the window for Early Conciliation is time limited. We therefore strongly advise that you seek our guidance as soon as you are contacted in order that we can help you to get the most out of the Early Conciliation process, and to help you to reach a swift and commercial resolution.
Please contact Claire or Rebecca in the employment department for more information.
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