Following a change in employment law on 27 January 2020, if you want to lodge a claim with the Industrial or Fair Employment Tribunal, you must first tell the Labour Relations Agency (LRA) and you will be offered conciliation on your case. Involvement in the conciliation process is voluntary but you can’t go to tribunal without at least considering this option. There are some exceptions to this – see Exemptions on Early Conciliation
How early conciliation works
Tribunal claims usually have to be presented within three or six months of the alleged incident or behaviour, depending on the type of claim.
However, if you make an early conciliation notification within the appropriate time limit (three or six months depending on the claim), the clock will stop for up to one month during which conciliation can take place. The conciliation officer has the power to extend for a further 14 days if there’s a reasonable prospect of an agreement and if both parties consent.
Getting started with early conciliation
Due to the threat of COVID-19, LRA offices are closed to visitors.
You can make an early conciliation notification on the LRA website.
If you can’t do it online, you can:
- phone the Labour Relations Agency where a staff member can take your details
- ask a legal or trade union representatives to do this for you
- download the form, complete it by hand and post it to the LRA
You (or your representative) will then be contacted by one of the LRA’s conciliation officers, usually within five working days.
They will explain how conciliation works and with your consent, will contact the other party to ask if there’s a willingness to try early conciliation.
If both parties agree, the conciliation officer will try to help find a solution they both find acceptable and the settlement will be legally binding.
If parties can’t agree a settlement, the LRA will issue an early conciliation certificate which you will need if you decide to go to tribunal.
Exemptions on early conciliation
There are a small number of exemptions where you can go straight to tribunal and are not required to engage in early conciliation.
These exemptions are:
- if another person with the same dispute has been given an Early Conciliation certificate number and you lodge your Tribunal claim on the same claim form
- if an employer has already asked us to get involved in the dispute, you will be exempt from Early Conciliation
- where your complaint relates to an employment dispute and includes a claim where the Agency has no duty to conciliate e.g. a written Particulars claim or a Redundancy Fund payment claim
- if you plan to apply for interim relief because you believe you have been unfairly dismissed or
- if your claim is against the Security Service, the Secret Intelligence Service or the Government Communications Headquarters
- Early conciliation explained