In an attempt to reduce the backlog that both ACAS and the Tribunal Service are experiencing as a result of coronavirus, changes to ACAS Early Conciliation provisions and new tribunal procedure rules are being introduced.
Below are the most significant changes:
ACAS Early Conciliation
- From 1 December 2020, the default conciliation period is being extended to six weeks with no possibility of a further extension.
- This means that employees will effectively have an extra two weeks to lodge an employment tribunal claim. The time limit currently sits at five months, but with this extension employees now have five months and two weeks to bring a claim in time.
- The change will only take effect for early conciliation entered into after 1 December 2020.
Tribunal procedure rules
You can access the full legislation here (be warned, it’s not for the faint hearted!). The changes will come into effect on 7 October 2020 and explain amongst other things that:
- To increase capacity, judges from outside the employment tribunal will be allowed to sit as judges in employment tribunals. It remains to be seen how using non-employment specialists will impact decisions.
- Legal officers (who don’t need to be legally qualified) will be able to carry out administrative tasks for employment judges. This could include acceptance or rejection of claim forms and ET3 extensions, for example.
With more uncertainty on the horizon, it’s unlikely to be the last time rules and procedures are relaxed to provide additional capacity and flexibility.