With effect from 6th May 2014, it is a legal requirement that prior to making a complaint to an Employment Tribunal, a claimant must first notify ACAS personally (i.e. not via a representative) unless an exemption applies such as multiple claims against the same Employer.
Under normal circumstances a claimant has 3 months to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal. This time limit will be paused up to a month to take into account any early conciliation attempts. If both parties agree, there can be one further extension of 14 days if a longer discussion period is required.
Why have early conciliation?
Once a complaint is submitted via an ET1 form to a tribunal, a formal process is instigated which can be both timely and costly for both parties concerned. Early conciliation provides a forum for discussion between both parties with a view to obtaining a settlement without any unnecessary legal costs. It is impartial, confidential and free and does not affect the tribunal claim because ACAS is completely independent of the tribunal process.