News and Events

What is ACAS Early Conciliation?

View profile for Employment Team
  • Posted
  • Author

If you are considering bringing an Employment Tribunal claim against your former, current or a potential employer, you will have to go through ACAS Early Conciliation before you do so. This is the process that employees and individuals are required to enter into before they are able to bring claim to an Employment Tribunal (ET). It is designed to try and resolve disputes, if possible, before they reach the ET; in this article, our Employment Law team details how to start the conciliation process and how long it could take.

How do I start ACAS Early Conciliation?

Employees wishing to bring a claim in the ET must do so within three months minus one day from the date of the incident they are complaining about. However, the time the individual is partaking in ACAS Early Conciliation effectively “stops the clock” on this time limit.

The ACAS Early Conciliation process is as follows:

  1. You will be required to submit a notification form to ACAS with initial information such as your contact details, the nature of the incident and the claim you’d like to bring.
  2. You will then receive an email with your ACAS number and a phone number to contact ACAS. They will explain the next stages to you and take some further details about your claim.
  3. If you are happy to take part in Early Conciliation, and ACAS feel that they can help, your claim will be passed to an ACAS conciliator.
  4. The conciliator will talk through the issues with you, or your representative, and the organisation you're intending to claim against. The intention is to help you and your employer to find some common ground and reach a compromise you are both prepared to accept, rather than progress the issue to the ET.
  5. If you do agree on an outcome, you must both then sign an agreement setting out the terms of settlement called a COT3. In agreeing to a COT3 you agree to waive your claims and not to pursue them in the ET.

How long does ACAS Early Conciliation take?

The Early Conciliation process usually lasts for a maximum of four weeks but this can be extended by a further two weeks if necessary. If an agreement of a settlement cannot be reached during the timescales then ACAS will close the conciliation process and issue a certificate to confirm that the process has concluded. At this stage, you are free to submit your claim to the ET. It is important for any claim that you include the certificate number issued by ACAS on your claim otherwise it is unlikely that the ET will hear your case.

Finding a resolution through ACAS Early Conciliation is a much more favourable outcome for both yourself and whoever you are seeking to bring a claim against. Taking a claim to the ET is both financially and emotionally taxing, as well as time consuming and Early Conciliation can help avoid these issues by finding an agreed resolution out of Court. If you would like more information on how we can help take this burden off your shoulders and complete ACAS Early Conciliation on your behalf, or if you have gone through Early Conciliation, were unable to find a resolution and are now intending to take your claim to Employment Tribunal, you can contact our Employment team for any advice on 023 8071 7717 or email


This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article