On Wednesday 13th May we held the seminar “The Role of ACAS and Early Conciliation”, in collaboration with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
Igor Urra, Secretary General of the Spanish Chamber, welcomed attendees on behalf of our institution and introduced Isabel Álvarez, the speaker for this session.
Isabel Álvarez, Trainer and Conciliator at ACAS, spoke about the mandatory early conciliation in employment disputes as since 6th April 2014 it is now mandatory for anyone wishing to issue an Employment Tribunal claim to contact first ACAS to consider conciliation of their potential claim.
Isabel explained that before issuing a claim or ‘relevant proceedings’ in the Employment Tribunal, a prospective claimant will be obliged to provide ACAS with prescribed information either by presenting an early conciliation form or by telephoning ACAS. If the prospective claimant does not contact ACAS then ACAS will not issue an early conciliation certificate and the prospective claimant will not be able to bring a claim because the Tribunal will not accept the claim without the certificate number. This is the only compulsory step of the process and there is no obligation on either party to actually engage in settlement discussions.
As Isabel pointed out, the aim of this new process is to offer the possibility to obtain a resolution of an employment dispute in a faster and cheaper way, as the process generally lasts up to one month and it is free, and to reduce the number of cases reaching the Employment Tribunal. She then went on to describe in further detail the next steps of the process and the time scale in which each should be completed for the conciliation to be successful. If the early conciliation period expires without settlement, the case will be closed and the conciliation certificate issued for the involved parties to present it at the Employment Tribunal.
To illustrate how early conciliation is a powerful tool both for claimants and companies and that an agreement may be reached in most cases, Isabel provided several examples of previous claims she has worked on. For instance, a night guard that had been unfairly dismissed agreed to a conciliation process in exchange of keeping the watch dog he had been working with –and which was bound to be sacrificed- he would not present any claims against the company.
At the end of the session, attendees took the opportunity to ask Isabel about the different aspects of the process and exchanged their views on this matter. After the Q&A, participants continued networking while enjoying some breakfast.
We would like to thank everyone who took part in this activity and especially Isabel Álvarez for delivering such an engaging and interesting seminar.
If you want to find out other activities that the Spanish Chamber is organising, we encourage you to keep an eye on our UPCOMING EVENTS section within our website. Furthermore, you can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter in order to receive updates with our events!