ACAS Statistics on early concillation and settlements

Acas has published its most recent quarterly statistics, covering nine months between April 2017 and December 2017.

Notification of intention to make a claim

Kate Fretten, Partner in Frettens' Employment Team, summarises the key points. "The first statistic to discuss is that between the start of April 2017 and the end of July 2017, Acas received around 1,700 notifications intention to lodge an employment tribunal claim per week. Since the Supreme Court ruling on Employment Tribunal Fees, this has risen to around 2,200 notifications per week."

Early concillation

Acas' advice is always to resolve workplace disputes as early as possible and by use of your organisation's appeals or grievance procedure. There are time limits for an employee to make a claim to the employment tribunal.

If the issue cannot be sorted out directly between employer and employee, the employee must notify Acas of their intention to lodge an employment tribunal claim. Acas will then offer the opportunity to use Early Conciliation, which is an opportunity to settle the workplace dispute without going to court.

Early concillation statistics

The recently released statistics show that early conciliation succeeded in 17% of cases. Of the remaining 83%, 26% progressed to a tribunal.

Of those that proceeded to tribunal, 21% subsequently settled via a COT3 agreement, 5% were withdrawn by the Claimant, 7% have been determined by a tribunal and 67% remain outstanding.

Settlement agreements

A settlement agreement is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee. Usually, the employee accepts a sum of money in return for agreeing to give up his or her rights to pursue or bring future claims against the employer in return for a payment.

The settlement agreement is legally binding once it is signed by both employee and employer. The employee must also receive advice on the terms of the settlement agreement and their effect by an independent solicitor.

What is a COT3?

A COT3 is an agreement which records the terms of settlement of an employment tribunal claim (or potential claim) which has been agreed between employee and employer with the assistance of a conciliation officer employed by Acas. This agreement does not need to be recorded on the form which is known as a COT3.

It can be agreed between you and your employer in writing or orally with the help of a conciliation officer and it will still be valid and binding.

When an agreement has been reached and this has been communicated to the conciliation officer, the agreement cannot be changed.

When the COT3 has been agreed, the tribunal will no longer be able to hear your claim. If you have issued a tribunal claim, your conciliation officer will notify the tribunal that the claim has been settled.

Unlike Settlement Agreements, there is no requirement for you to obtain independent legal advice for the COT3 to be binding. But your conciliation officer should explain the terms of the COT3 and their effect.

Employment Tribunal claims

Kate, says "It is worthy of note for employers that the number of notifications of intention to lodge an employment tribunal claim are increasing since the Supreme Court ruling on fees. Employees usually have to make a claim to the tribunal within 3 months of their employment ending or the problem happening, but the flood gates may now be opening for people who have been put off making a claim on an ongoing, unresolved issue with their employer."

At Frettens, all of our solicitors offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone to answer your questions. If this article raises issues for you or your business, please call us on 01202 499255 and Kate or Paul will be happy to discuss it with you.