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Acas Early Conciliation decision-making

Exploring the behaviours of claimants who neither settled nor proceeded to the Employment Tribunal

An employee concerned with a workplace dispute
Published: November 2017

Our report for Acas conducts insights into the employees who use the Early Conciliation service for resolving workplace disputes, but neither go on to achieve a settlement or proceed to an employment tribunal.

Acas provides information and advice to employers and employees on workplace relations and employment law. One service provided by Acas is Early Conciliation, which was introduced in April 2014.

The Early Conciliation process attempts to resolve workplace disputes before they're escalated to an employment tribunal, in order to save all parties time and money.

Of the employees who initiate Early Conciliation,  a substantial proportion (65 per cent of all claims from April 2015 – March 2016) neither achieve a settlement through Early Conciliation, nor go on to submit a claim with an employment tribunal, despite fulfilling the requisite requirements.

Little more is known about the motivations of this group, and the reasons underpinning their decisions not to make an employment tribunal claim.

With limited in-depth information available on this issue, Acas commissioned this research from NatCen to expand the existing evidence base, and allow for greater insight into this group of claimants.

Read the full report here.



The research had two key aims.

  • We wanted to develop greater insights into claimants who do not proceed to submit an application for Employment Tribunal after notification through the Early Conciliation process, despite not settling at Early Conciliation (in other words, they neither settle nor proceed)
  • We also wanted to gather evidence to help Acas improve the delivery of the Early Conciliation service.



We used an in-depth qualitative approach to meet these research aims. A total of 35 interviews were conducted with people who had submitted an Early Conciliation notification between October and November 2016.

In-depth interviews were used to map the full range of experiences, reasons and circumstances of claimants in this group.

The report presents evidence from research exploring the experiences, behaviours and needs of a subset of Acas Early Conciliation users: claimants (employees) who neither settle at Early Conciliation, nor proceed to making an Employment Tribunal application.

The full report