How effective is ACAS?
ACAS have a statutory duty to promote the resolution of disputes both prior to, and during the course of Employment Tribunal proceedings. ACAS’s role has changed significantly since 2013. It’s now mandatory for all Claimants to start ‘Early Conciliation’ before going to tribunal which means contacting ACAS to see if the dispute can be resolved.
Some interesting statistics have emerged from the report:
- 78% of claimants and 84% of employers used a legal representative to assist them with the ET process.
- 87% of claimants and 91% of employers found the ACAS conciliator ‘trustworthy’ and ‘listened to what they had to say’.
- Of the cases that settled, the average settlement sum was £5,422 (employers reported a slightly lower £4,999).
- 27% of claimants who withdrew their case said they thought they would not win, or that it would be a waste of time.
- 20% of claimants who withdrew their case said that the tribunal fees (presumably hearing fees) were off-putting and 17% said they found the process too stressful.
- 35% of Claimants applied for fee remission of the issue fee (normally £250).
- it is estimated that 71% of claimants avoided going to ET altogether.
- 62% of Claimants whose case went to a final hearing were happy with the outcome (presumably because they won). Conversely 76% of employers were satisfied with the outcome.
- 87% of claimants and 92% of employers reported that they would use ACAS conciliation services in the future.
What does this mean for you or your business?
It is hardly surprising that ACAS are giving itself a pat on the back on a job well done but the statistics do make for interesting reading.
There is a stark rise in the parties ‘lawyering up’. Perhaps this statistic is demonstrative of the fact that when people do decide to bring a Tribunal claim, and pay the tribunal issue fee, they are more inclined to invest in legal advice, rather than attempt to run the claim themselves. It is clear however that the impact of tribunal fees is still deterring claimants from bringing claims.
Even if ACAS does say so itself, it is doing a decent job, and irrespective of whether ET fees are abolished it is clear that ACAS will continue to play a vital role in the resolution of disputes between employer and employee.
What do you need to be doing now?
If you receive a call from ACAS regarding one of your employees, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and find out what the potential claim is all about. As an employer, ACAS Early Conciliation is a good opportunity to test an employee’s case at an early opportunity and to respond with a forceful defence to shift that employee’s perception of their chances of success at tribunal.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.