The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 amended the Employment Tribunals Act to introduce a requirement for prospective claimants to contact ACAS before they are able to present a claim in the Employment Tribunal. This requirement also applies to claims which could be the subject of employment tribunal proceedings (i.e. of section 18(1) of the Employment Tribunals Act).
Regulation 4 comes into force on 6th March 2014 and the remainder of the regulations come into force on 6th April 2014.
Regulation 3 sets out the circumstances in which a claimant may present a claim for relevant proceedings without complying with the requirement for early conciliation. This includes the applicability of the time frame extensions available.
The exemption in regulation 3(1)(a) relates to claimants who are presenting a claim on the same claim form as other claimants or joining a claim which has already been presented to the Employment Tribunal by another claimant (so called ‘multiples’); in such instances, a claimant may rely upon the fact that another claimant has complied with the requirement for early conciliation and has a certificate from Acas.
The exemption in regulation 3(1)(b) means that if a claim for relevant proceedings appears on the same claim form as proceedings which are not relevant proceedings, there is no need for a claimant to satisfy the early conciliation requirement in relation those relevant proceedings.
The exemption in regulation 3(1)(c) means that a claimant need not comply with the requirement for early conciliation where the prospective respondent has already contacted ACAS in relation to the dispute.
The exemption in regulation 3(1)(d) means that a claimant does not have to comply with the requirement for early conciliation where a claim for unfair dismissal is accompanied by a claim for interim relief.
The exemption in regulation 3(1)(e) means that a claimant does not have to comply with the requirement for early conciliation where the claim is against the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service or the Government Communications Headquarters.
The power in regulation 4 allows the Secretary of State to prescribe a form which prospective claimants must use to contact ACAS in relation to the requirement for early conciliation and a certificate for ACAS to issue following early conciliation.
Rules 1 to 3 in the Schedule set out how a prospective claimant should provide information to ACAS so as to comply with the requirement for early conciliation.
Rule 5 details the process for early conciliation. Rule 6 provides that conciliation may be attempted for up to one calendar month and that this period may be extended for up to two weeks.
Rules 7 to 9 set out what will happen if early conciliation is unsuccessful in whole or in part.