Circular No: NP/ 008/15
Our Ref: LA/ 46/15
21st January 2015
To: Branches, Regional Councils & Regional Offices; Regional Officers
ACAS EARLY CONCILIATION SCHEME UPDATE
Further to previous Circulars. In particular NP/038/14 AND NP/053/14 and the Conciliation Booklet prepared by our Legal Team with an Introduction from me I wish to draw your attention to the following changes.
Members who wish to submit an Employment Tribunal claim cannot do so unless they have notified ACAS of their potential claim and have sought Early Conciliation of the claim. They must do so before they can submit an ET1. They must get a Certificate of Conciliation from ACAS stating that they have tried to settle their case before they can submit an ET1.
Members must complete and submit an Early Conciliation Form (ECF) online. Please note this is separate form from an L2 (Union form requesting Legal Assistance) and an ET1 (Tribunal Application Form). The best way to register with ACAS is on line at: https://ec.acas.org.uk
Members who don’t have access to a computer may telephone ACAS to initiate conciliation on: 0300 123 1100.
When registering on line or by phone the member will be given a unique reference number e.g. R002979/15. If member does not have a reference then the case has in all likely hood not been registered.
Members do not need a certificate to proceed to a Tribunal from the ACAS Early Conciliation scheme in the following certain specified cases only:
- Some multiple claims where another member has already got a certificate and the issues are the same. Note well the facts must be identical; if different then a claim must be registered.
- Where the member is dismissed and is seeking interim relief.
- Where the employer has requested the conciliation.
- Cases relating to National Security.
It is essential that when completing a form or supplying information to ACAS the member uses the name and address of the employer that will eventually appear on the ET1, otherwise the claim could be rejected on the basis that the information provided is incorrect.
It is important that the Union meets the challenges that this system imposes and uses it to the benefit of our members. Therefore all Branches, Union Officers and Representatives must be vigilant and spot cases at the earliest possible opportunity. Early involvement of the Legal Department is vital if the Union is to avoid any complications.
You must refer the member as soon as practicable to your Regional Office after the member is dismissed and after the event complained of so that an L2 can be completed and sent to our legal team with the supporting paperwork. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE OUTCOME OF AN APPEAL before seeking Legal Advice.
Upon contact with the Regional Office the member will be provided with the L2 and associated forms, these will be sent to the Legal Department once signed off by the Regional Officer and he/she will be advised to contact ACAS by our Legal Team except in the case where the original time limit is close (within the week); in which case the Regional Staff will advise the member to do so to ensure that their claim is not out of time. It is easier to use online facilities wherever possible as there is then proof that ACAS have been contacted.
The Legal Department or Regional Office will supply the member with the details of the Union Officer who will be conciliating with ACAS on their behalf. If the member does not wish the Union to do so then they must do this themselves. The member will be required to give written authority for our Regional Officer to handle the conciliation. Please ensure that only a Regional Officer or person approved by our Legal Team is given to represent the member with ACAS. No other representative has authority to represent our member at ACAS unless approved. Unauthorised representatives should decline to act and if asked to represent must refer the member to the Regional Officer.
In response to feedback from users, ACAS have made some important revisions to the ACAS early notification form, both online and hard copy versions. These changes will make the process of notifying Acas faster and simpler.
- The employer address lookup facility has been removed as it was proving difficult for claimants to give the correct legal identity of their employer. So claimants now have to manually input the correct address. This must be accurate and tally with the address given on the ET1 form.
- Have introduced a field so the claimant can include contact details of their representative.the member has included representative details on the form, they will contact the Union directly without speaking to the member first. So it is important that if member asks you who should be put down only an authorised RO (see below) or one of our Legal Team can be submitted.
The changes to the form have now gone live, and ACA will be posting regular updates on Twitter at @acasorguk (using the hashtag #earlyconciliation).
Initially when early conciliation was introduced The Union considered that the best way forward during this initial period was to have a specified team of Relief Officers who would be the Unions Conciliation Officers. Having reviewed the matter with our Regional Officers it has been agreed that with immediate effect our Regional Officers (set out below) will be responsible for conciliation with ACAS in liaison with our Legal Team.
No other officer or rep is permitted to do this on the Unions behalf without authorisation from me.
The Conciliation Officers are
Wessex; South West and South Wales: Mick Tosh; Brendan Kelly; Phil Bialyk.
London Transport; London Anglia & South Eastern: Brian Whitehead; Steve Smart; John Leach; Paul Cox.
Midlands; Yorkshire & N.East: Ken Usher; Dave Collinson; Micky Thompson.
Manchester; N.West; Liverpool & Scotland: John Tilley, Daren Ireland; Gordon Martin
It is always best to consult our Legal Team before contacting ACAS so that the Officers can ensure that the relevant and accurate information is given to ACAS so as to avoid future problems with an Employment Tribunal. Please note that the details of any ET1 form must match the details given to ACAS; so if a matter is not included in ACAS conciliation the member may have to make a further application for the ancillary matter; if it falls outside the limitation period it may be too late to do so.
Conciliation will take please within a month of notification. Our Officers must work closely with our Legal Team who, provided they get the paper work in time, will be able to assist our Officers with advice on the member’s case including its strengths and weaknesses and will be able to assist with settlement agreements and schedule of losses.
Should conciliation fail, the member will be given a certificate that conciliation is over. If the case is to proceed to a Tribunal this certificate must be submitted to the Tribunal with the ET1 and Remission form or fee. As soon as the member is given the certificate the limitation clock begins to run again; having stopped for the period of the conciliation.
Once a certificate of conciliation has been issued the ET1 must be submitted within 1 month or the period of the conciliation depending on when the certificate was issued. The calculation of this period can be complex and therefore it is important that if the legal team have not given an advice the papers are given to them immediately by the Regional Officer.
The primary limitation period of three months less one day stops whilst conciliation takes place. That is, the clock stops ticking for submitting an ET1 but begins again as soon as the certificate is issued.
Date of Dismissal /discrimination: 7th April 2015
Original Limitation: 6th July 2015
Date Early Conciliation lodged at ACAS 14TH April 2014 (DAY A): 15th April 2015
Date Certificate issued by ACAS (Day B): 12th May 2015
New Limitation date for ET1 to be lodged: 3rd August 2015
Date of Dismissal/Discrimination 7th April 2015
Original Limitation: 6th July 2015
Date Early Conciliation lodged at ACAS 12th May 2015 (Day A): 13th May 2015
Date Certificate issued by ACAS (DAY B):20TH May 2015
New Limitation date for ET1: 13TH July 2015
In order for this to work smoothly for the benefit of our members and to avoid problems with time limits and cases being struck out we need full cooperation from the Regional Offices; Officers; Branches and activists to reduce delays in seeking assistance from our Legal Teams.
Updated Training will be given to our Officers and Regional Office Staff where necessary. “The Employment Tribunal Process and Conciliation Guidance Booklet in procedure for regions reps and members” will also be amended to incorporate these changes.
I would be grateful if you could ensure that all your members and activists know this procedure please.