What is ACAS?
Acas (or the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) is an intermediary government body that is in place to assist with employment disputes. In an employment context, Acas works towards promoting better relations between employers and employees. But things don’t always go to plan and when a dispute arises, you can ask them to step in and help you resolve the situation. The advice is free and impartial so the Acas advisors act as a neutral party rather than fighting on behalf of one side.
Do I need to contact Acas before bringing a claim to the Employment Tribunal?
Acas plays a very important role in the tribunal process so if you are thinking about bringing a claim, you are required to contact Acas before doing so. This is because there is a mandatory requirement to go through a period of ‘early conciliation.’ If this is not done, you cannot proceed with your claim and it can be struck out by the tribunal for failure to comply with the rules. Acas will issue you with an early conciliation certificate if an agreement cannot be reached between the parties and you will need the certificate number to include on your claim form.
Does contacting Acas affect my time limit to bring a claim?
Most claims that you will bring in the employment tribunal will have around a 3-month time limit from the date of the act or dismissal complained of.
When you start your early conciliation claim with Acas, the time limit clock will stop, so you will not have less time to bring your claim. The time limit clock will continue once a certificate has been issued.
What else does Acas do?
Acas is also responsible for providing guidance documents for employers and employees such as the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. These Codes not only provide information on what processes should be followed but Employment Tribunals will also refer to the Codes when looking at your case. If you or the employer have not followed the Code of Practice correctly, compensation can be increased or decreased by up to 25%.
Do I need a solicitor or legal advisor to contact Acas for me?
An employee can contact Acas themselves for either advice or to start a claim for early conciliation. The advantage of using a solicitor or legal advisor is that we can conduct negotiations on your behalf and strive to achieve the best settlement possible for you at the earliest opportunity. Acas cannot advise you on the value of any potential claim that you may have and it is therefore important that you seek advice before agreeing to a settlement. An agreement reached through Acas to settle a claim is binding and will prevent you from bringing any further claims in the future.
If you would like advice on your claim prior to contacting Acas or are going through Acas conciliation and would like our help to secure you a better settlement, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
For advice or for a free assessment contact us today