Do you want to claim in the Employment Tribunal?
Did you know that before you can commence the vast majority of Employment Tribunal claims you must complete the ACAS Early Conciliation process?
Since 6 May 2014, ACAS Early Conciliation is the mandatory process which must be completed before an employee can issue most Employment Tribunal claims. We can advise you as to whether you need to complete the ACAS Early Conciliation for your particular claim. However, just because you complete ACAS Early Conciliation does not mean that you are obliged to issue a Tribunal claim. It is simply the case that without completing the ACAS Early Conciliation process you will not be able to issue your Tribunal claim. You may wish to use the process to establish whether the employer is prepared to negotiate with you.
There is a strict time limit for issuing an Employment Tribunal claim which is 3 months less a day from the date of dismissal or the last act about which you are complaining. During the ACAS Early Conciliation process time is “paused” such that the period during which you are engaged in ACAS Early Conciliation is effectively added on to the primary time limit for bringing an Employment Tribunal claim.
The ACAS Early Conciliation process normally concludes after 6 weeks. It is "without prejudice" which means that nothing which the parties disclose to ACAS or each other during the process can be relied on during any subsequent Employment Tribunal proceedings. ACAS Early Conciliation is an opportunity for the parties to negotiate and see if they can conclude the dispute prior to an Employment Tribunal claim. If the case settles through ACAS, a formal settlement agreement will be produced which is known as a COT3 agreement.
How much compensation can I claim?
We can assist you with the ACAS Early Conciliation process. Once the process has been started, an ACAS Conciliator will contact you or us, if we are representing you, in order to obtain details about your case. Whilst you are best placed to provide the factual details when the Conciliator asks how much compensation you are claiming, we can provide the relevant amount(s) and, where appropriate, calculations to legally substantiate the amount(s) you are claiming. Instructing a solicitor to represent you in the ACAS Early Conciliation process may make the other party, your current or former employer, sit up and take notice of your potential Employment Tribunal claim.
What are the legal fees for ACAS Early Conciliation?
Depending on the value of your claim, we will charge between 25% and 30% (plus VAT) of the compensation we achieve for you on a "No Win No Fee" basis.
In the vast majority of cases, before you can proceed to lodge a claim with the Employment Tribunal, you must notify ACAS of your intention to do so. ACAS will then offer the opportunity to use Early Conciliation. This is a process designed to enable the parties to settle their workplace dispute without going to tribunal. Reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing.
The process involves submitting a form (Early Conciliation Notification Form) which is a very simple process by which you confirm the brief details of the dispute and the name of the employer. ACAS will then contact you to go through the information provided and explain the process. They will then contact your employer to see if they wish to engage in conciliation. If the matter is resolved, ACAS will deal with the necessary forms for you to sign. If the matter is not resolved, ACAS will then issue a certificate which then allows you to lodge a claim in the Employment Tribunal.
In most Employment Tribunal cases, there are strict three month/less one day time limits within which you can issue proceedings. These time limits usually begin to run from the termination date of your employment (unfair dismissal), date of your resignation (constructive dismissal) or from the incident of discrimination.
If you try and issue proceedings outside of this three month time limit, your claim will only be accepted in exceptional circumstances.
Exceptions to the three month time limit include cases regarding equal pay disputes and redundancy payment disputes when claims must be issued within six months.
Settlement agreements are legal contracts between an employer and an employee (or former employee to terminate the contract of employment. We often see settlement agreements in the following circumstances:
- Performance review
- Disciplinary process
The agreement usually contains provisions for the following:
- Payment in lieu of notice (unless the employer wants you to work your notice);
- A sum equivalent to any accrued, unused holiday
Any payment in lieu of notice and holiday pay with be subject to your usual tax and national insurance deductions.
Depending on the circumstances, sometimes there may be an ex-gratia (one-off) payment. This is often referred to as the termination payment and ideally should be an incentivised sum of money to sign the agreement. This sum is tax free up to £30,000.
Although you do not have to accept a Settlement Agreement offered by your employer, once you have signed the document, it is seen as full and final settlement of any potential claims you may have against your employer.
If all the required formalities are fulfilled, such agreements are legally binding agreement and cannot be revoked.
For these reasons it is a legal requirement that you receive independent legal advice from a qualified solicitor who is adequately insured.