Who or What are Acas?
ACAS provides information, advice, training, conciliation and other services for Employers and Employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems (ACAS). ACAS has a role to play during the employment, when an employment relationship has come to an end but the parties are trying to work through a dispute or, more often, when a dispute has arisen and it is being used as a precursor to issuing proceedings in the Employment Tribunal or conciliating once proceedings have begun.
ACAS are a persuasive authority and, as such, their codes of practice are considered best practice and should be followed. The Tribunal rather expects ACAS’ guides to be the minimum standard adopted by Employers. All policies and procedures drafted by T G Baynes are put together with these guides in mind.
Most often ACAS is used when an employment relationship has broken down and the Employee wishes to issue proceedings in the Employment Tribunal. The Employee is now virtually always obliged to refer the matter to ACAS for early conciliation prior to issuing those proceedings. Early conciliation is an opportunity for both sides to try to resolve the dispute before litigation is commenced and both parties face some sort of cost whether that be in Tribunal fees, solicitor’s fees or management time.
If one or other party is not interested in using this alternative dispute resolution procedure then ACAS produces a certificate which the Employee refers to when starting its claim. If the parties are interested then an ACAS Conciliator makes contact between the parties, tries to establish the problem(s) and encourage discussion around the things that can be agreed between the parties and explore options for settlement. Resolution here can often be quite satisfactory especially if an Employee is looking for an apology or a reference (as well as or instead of compensation) as these are not remedies which the Tribunal can offer. If an agreement is reached, a legally binding agreement is produced either a Settlement Agreement or COT3 terms. If an agreement cannot be reached within the statutory timeframe after extension then ACAS will issue a certificate so proceedings can be started (Early-Conciliation-flowchart).
ACAS’s involvement does not stop there, however. ACAS are empowered to assist with conciliation right up to the day of the Trial. Either party can make contact with their dedicated conciliator at any time during the litigation to make offers or try to narrow the issues.
T G Baynes works with ACAS constantly. We can manage the first reference to ACAS for you and then discussions between them and the other party. We can also deal with ACAS as conciliators throughout litigation as appropriate in an effort to see the case resolved on the most commercial basis.