Individual disputes

Many issues which may lead to an employment dispute can be resolved informally in the workplace between the individual and their immediate line manager. Problems are always best dealt with as early as possible. Internal procedures should be in place to deal with more difficult cases, and Acas can advise about best practice policies and procedures to help avoid difficulties.

But sometimes issues escalate and become formal legal claims. People must notify Acas before they lodge an Employment Tribunal claim, and we will try to help. Reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal case. We also offer Mediation and Arbitration to resolve disputes.

Conciliation is offered to both sides to try and settle the matter without the need for a legal claim to be lodged. It's voluntary, and both parties must participate in the process for conciliation to be able to work.

Conciliation is where an independent Acas conciliator discusses the issues with both parties in order to help them reach a better understanding of each other's position and underlying interests. Without taking sides the conciliator will encourage the parties in a dispute to come to an agreement between themselves.

This is different to collective conciliation, which is between employee representative groups (usually trade unions) and employers.

Stages of Acas Conciliation

  • Before lodging an Employment Tribunal claim, you must contact Acas and we will offer Early Conciliation to try and help settle the dispute without the need to lodge a tribunal claim.
  • Acas has a statutory duty to offer Early Conciliation for an initial period of up to a calendar month.
  • During the Early Conciliation period, the time limitation for putting in a tribunal claim is paused.
  • When the Early Conciliation period is over, the time limitation clock starts again, but Acas conciliation continues to be available.
  • At the end of Early Conciliation, we will issue a Certificate with a number on it. That number is required to lodge an Employment Tribunal claim.

We will continue to offer a free conciliation service right up until the tribunal hearing to help parties try and find a solution. More information about conciliation is available in pdf icon Conciliation explained [128kb].

Contact our Helpline on 0300 123 1100 or see our Advice A-Z for more information.

We're making some improvements. Find out more about how we are Improving the Early Conciliation service.