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Service targets employment disputes

A new initiative designed to help employers and employees resolve workplace disputes will be on offer from 6 April.

Using Early Conciliation, provided by employment relations service Acas, will become mandatory for claims made on or after 6 May.

Under the new initiative, before someone lodges an employment tribunal claim, they will need to notify Acas by completing a simple online form.

Acas will then quickly get in touch to gather information on the dispute, which will be passed to a conciliator. They will aim to make contact with both parties and talk through the issues to see if a solution can be found.

Both parties must agree to take part before the process can start, and either can change their mind at any time.

If no agreement can be reached, a tribunal claim can still be made. Using Early Conciliation will “pause” the usual three-month time limit on making an employment tribunal claim.

All conversations conducted during Early Conciliation will be on a without prejudice basis, so that nothing said during the process can be used later in a tribunal.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that the maximum compensatory award that a claimant employee can be awarded in an unfair dismissal claim will increase from £74,200 to £76,574, where the effective termination date falls on or after 6 April 2014, or one year’s pay, whichever is the lower.

The maximum statutory redundancy payment will increase from £13,500 to £13,920 from 6 April, while the maximum amount of a week’s pay to be used when calculating redundancy payments will also increase from £450 to £464.