As of Tuesday 6 May, new employment law legislation has been introduced to reduce the number of workplace disputes ending up at an employment tribunal.
The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 has made it compulsory that employees who wish to take their case to an employment tribunal must notify the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) first.
Once ACAS has been informed both the employee and employer will then have the chance of resolving the dispute through an ACAS conciliator.
But if one of the parties doesn't want to conciliate, ACAS will issue a conciliation certificate.
A certificate will also be issued if the parties cannot come to an agreement. It's only with this certificate that a claim can proceed to an employment tribunal.
Companies aren't required to conciliate once ACAS has been informed, but the new legislation can help businesses as it gives them advance warning that a claim is being brought and the reasons why.
This process then gives companies the opportunity to settle the dispute quickly and inexpensively, or the time to prepare their defence, if it's so needed.
Unless an employee is eligible for help with their legal costs, they will have to pay a fee of £250 if they take the claim to a tribunal. They will also have to pay £950 for the final hearing. As a result, employees may want to settle before arriving at an employment tribunal.
ACAS will provide information about employment law and compensation, but it won't give an opinion on the claim.
This should help claimants as it will provide them with realistic expectations of the compensation involved and the legal issues they will have to deal with.
The employers will also have advance notice of the size of compensation that the employee is looking for.
There are strict time limits as to when a claimant can take a workplace dispute to a tribunal.
The introduction of this early conciliation period does make it harder for an employee to know when to meet that deadline.
Published on: May 9, 2014