This month's business advices comes courtesy of Heather Grant, Solicitor at leading regional law firm Maxwell Hodge, who explains how new changes to employment law disputes can help cut costs for businesses.
In April the government introduced new changes to employment law which could help cut costs for businesses.
An "Early Conciliation" scheme is now available for anyone lodging a Tribunal claim. The scheme should help businesses resolve disputes before claims and expensive legal proceedings are initiated.
Claimants now have a duty to register their claim with ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service prior to lodging it in the Employment Tribunal. ACAS will then make contact with the employer to try to resolve the dispute without the matter reaching the Tribunal.
ACAS will offer to conciliate between the parties and claims can only be presented to an Employment Tribunal once an Early Conciliation Certificate has been issued by ACAS. This certificate confirms that the case has been registered with ACAS and contact has been made with the parties.
Although a claim must be registered with ACAS, it is possible for either party to decline ACAS’ assistance. In this case, Early Conciliation will have failed and the Claimant can proceed to lodge their claim with the Employment Tribunal.
Even if Early Conciliation fails, ACAS will still liaise with the parties after the issue of proceedings, to try and reach a settlement.
The new early conciliation scheme gives employers and employees the opportunity to negotiate an early settlement before potentially lengthy and expensive court proceedings are initiated. This is good news for all parties and could have a dramatic effect on the Tribunal system and the relative costs involved.
Since the launch of Early Conciliation last month, ACAS has reported that 100 employers have made contact with ACAS direct to try and resolve claims, with over 1000 enquiries from employers and employees alike in that time. Employers may now find that when faced with the prospect of paying Tribunal fees, an employee is more willing to settle at this early stage. Early Conciliation therefore offers businesses the opportunity to reach a quick settlement, saving time and money.
Maxwell Hodge is a leading regional law firm operating from 8 offices with a city centre office in the heart of Liverpool's business district. The firm delivers a variety of legal services to businesses. For more information on employment law contact Maxwell Hodge on 0151 227 4545 or on www.maxweb.co.uk