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«A consultation on proposals for implementation JANUARY 2013 Early conciliation: a consultation on proposals for implementation Contents Contents ...»

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EARLY CONCILIATION :

A consultation on proposals for

implementation

JANUARY 2013

Early conciliation: a consultation on proposals for implementation

Contents

Contents

Early Conciliation

Foreword

Executive Summary

How to respond

Confidentiality & Data Protection

Help with Queries

Context

1. How the Early Conciliation process is commenced

2. Exemptions to the requirement to make an Early Conciliation request.....12

3. Presenting the Early Conciliation Request

4. Contact with prospective respondents

5. The EC Certificate

6. Request for EC from prospective respondents

7. ET Claims

ANNEX A - Draft Regulations

ANNEX B - Draft EC Form

ANNEX C - List of Jurisdictions not appropriate for EC

ANNEX D - List of organisations consulted

ANNEX E - The Principles of Consultation

ANNEX F - Response form

Early conciliation: a consultation on proposals for implementation Early Conciliation Government is taking primary legislation through Parliament, in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill (“the Bill”), to provide the right conditions for business success and to promote a new economic dynamism by harnessing our economic strengths and removing barriers that inhibit innovation and enterprise.

The Bill contains a range of measures to support these aims, and encourage long term growth, by addressing the fears business tell usthey have of ending up in an employment tribunal; fears that can impact on their decision to take on staff and grow. Through the Bill we are making changes to the dispute resolution process to give parties greater opportunity to resolve their dispute without the need for employment tribunals.

In November 2011, following a public consultation on proposals to simplify and streamline the employment tribunal process, Government announced its intention to introduce Early Conciliation (“EC”) as the first part of the process.

The requirement for most potential tribunal claims to be referred to Acas in the first instance will allow parties to be offered the option of resolving their dispute through conciliation before a claim is made.

The Bill provides the legislative foundations for the EC process, including setting out when Acas will issue a certificate following EC, that relevant proceedings may not be commenced without an EC certificate and how expiry of the limitation periods will be suspended to allow for the EC period.

However, the implementation of EC requires secondary legislation and the development of the necessary administrative process. This consultation sets out how we intend that EC should operate, together with a draft set of Rules of Procedure, and some questions on which we would welcome views.

This consultation relates to England, Wales and Scotland and is relevant to businesses, individuals, trade unions, representative bodies and other interested parties.

–  –  –

Respond by: 15 February 2013 Enquiries to: earlyconciliation@bis.gsi.gov.uk

Or by telephone to:

Gail Davis 0207 215 3859

You can respond to the consultation on-line at :

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VGN9MGQ

–  –  –

Foreword The Government set out, in the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation 1, our commitment to deliver a flexible, effective and fair labour market through supporting and encouraging the earlier resolution of workplace disputes and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the employment tribunal process.

We have already taken steps to make this commitment a reality, through the mediation network pilots we are running for SMEs in Cambridge and Manchester, which will provide access to low cost mediation for those members of the network. And we have extended the qualification period for unfair dismissal from one to two years, to provide more time for employers and employees to get the employment relationship right.

Following Mr Justice Underhill’s review of the Employment Tribunal Rules of Procedure, we have consulted on his recommendations for a new set of rules that ensure employment tribunal cases can be managed effectively, flexibly, proportionately and consistently in order to ensure a system that is fair to all parties and we will publish our response, setting out the changes we intend to make, shortly.

And we are taking further steps streamline the existing tribunal system, and encourage employer compliance with their employment obligations, through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently before Parliament.

Amongst other things, the provisions in this Bill will provide the legislative platform for the introduction of Early Conciliation, a new measure that, rightly, has received support from all quarters.

While the requirement for prospective claimants to contact Acas before they can lodge proceedings at the Employment Tribunal will be mandatory, the decision whether to accept the offer of Early Conciliation will be entirely voluntary. Prospective claimants who do not want to attempt to settle the matter outside of the tribunal will be able to decline EC and proceed to lodge their claim. Prospective respondents, too, will be free to refuse EC.





But those who just want to resolve their dispute, without the cost and stress of the tribunal process, will be able to do so with the support of Acas conciliators.

While the principles underpinning EC have been established, there is still work to be done to determine how it will operate in practice. We have set out http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/employment-matters/docs/r/11-511-resolving-workplace-disputesconsultation.pdf

Early conciliation: a consultation on proposals for implementation

our proposals in this consultation. As we have repeatedly said, we do not want EC to become another step in what can already be a lengthy process, nor do we want it to be burdensome on prospective claimants and respondents, and I believe the process set out here reflects that commitment.

We also recognise that this is a new measure, and one of many changes that we are making to the employment tribunal system. We want to be able, if necessary, to refine how the EC process operates in light of these other changes and with that in mind have made the draft Regulations as “lighttouch” as we can.

I believe that Early Conciliation is an important addition to the dispute resolution toolkit and I look forward to hearing your views on our proposals for implementation.

Jo Swinson MP Minister for Employment Relations and Consumer Affairs

–  –  –

Executive Summary In the Government response to the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation 2, we set out our intention to introduce Early Conciliation. The necessary primary powers are contained in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, but these do not deal with how the process will operate in practice. This level of detail is a matter both for secondary legislation, through a set of Regulations, and of operational delivery decisions for Acas.

In this consultation, we have set out our proposals for what should be covered in the Regulations, and how the process should operate in practice. We are

seeking views in particular on:

 The draft Regulations (at Annex A);

 The draft EC form (at Annex B);

 Whether there are any other jurisdictions, in addition to those we have identified, in which EC would not be appropriate;

 Whether there is any evidence that the ECSO model we intend to operate is not appropriate;

 Whether there should be a limit on the number of attempts, or length time, in respect of Acas’ attempts to contact the prospective claimant and, where relevant, the prospective respondent;

 The contents of the EC Certificate;

 Our proposals for handling prospective respondent requests for EC.

http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/employment-matters/docs/r/11-1365-resolving-workplace-disputesgovernment-response.pdf

–  –  –

How to respond When responding, please state whether you are responding as an individual, or representing the views of an organisation. If responding on behalf of an organisation, please make it clear who the organisation represents by selecting the appropriate interest group on the consultation form and, where applicable, how the views of members were assembled.

The consultation will close on 15 February 2013.

You can respond to the consultation on-line at :

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/VGN9MGQ Alternatively, a copy of the consultation form is available at Annex F. If you decide to respond this way, the form can be submitted by letter, fax or email

to:

Labour Market Directorate Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 1 Victoria Street London SW1H 0ET Fax: 0207 215 6414 Email: earlyconciliation@bis.gis.gov.uk A list of those organisations consulted is at Annex D. We would welcome suggestions of others who may wish to be involved in this consultation process.

–  –  –

Confidentiality & Data Protection Information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be subject to publication or disclosure in accordance with the access to information regimes (these are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. If you want the information that you provide including personal data to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under the FOIA, there is a Statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence.

In view of this, it would be helpful if you could explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not, of itself, be regarded as binding on the Department.

A copy of the principles of consultation can be found at Annex E.

Help with Queries Questions about the policy issues raised in the document can be addressed

to:

Gail Davis Labour Market Directorate Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 1 Victoria Street London SW1H 0ET Tel: 0207 215 3859 Fax: 0207 215 6414 Email: gail.davis@bis.gsi.gov.uk

–  –  –

Context If employees experience a problem at work there are a number of ways in which the matter can be resolved, including discussing the issue internally (either informally, or using formal discipline & grievance procedures), mediation, seeking external advice (such as from Acas or Citizen’s Advice Bureaux) or, ultimately, taking the matter to an employment tribunal.

If an individual decides to make a claim to an employment tribunal they must complete and submit an ET1 form. This form is sent to the employer – the respondent – who then completes and submits an ET3 form in response.

Details of those claims lodged with the employment tribunal in which Acas can conciliate are automatically passed to Acas, who have a statutory duty to offer parties the opportunity to conciliate the matter(s). If Acas conciliation is successful, the parties can enter a binding agreement (known as a COT3 settlement) which settles the dispute and ends the employment tribunal process. If conciliation is unsuccessful, the matter may be determined at a tribunal hearing.

Business representatives have told us that employers are worried about the prospect of employment tribunal claims being brought against them, particularly because of the costs involved in preparing for, and attending, an employment tribunal whether they are successful or not. BIS has been told by a number of business organisations that this concern about the potential risk of claims against them can affect an employer’s decision to take on staff.



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