Pre-claim conciliation to begin from April

Charities that are in conflict with their employees will soon be able to enter conciliation before cases are lodged at employment tribunals.

After running a successful pilot project in three centres around the country, the government-funded conciliation service Acas will begin offering the pre-claim service from April. Acas currently offers conciliation once a claim has been lodged at a tribunal.

Acas will also extend the opening hours of its helpline for employers and employees in dispute by two hours on weekdays - it will now be open from 8am until 8pm. It will also open on Saturdays from 9am until 1pm.

Jane Bird, dispute resolution and review manager at Acas, told delegates at a conference in London that the pre-claim service had been very successful and popular during the pilots. "We expect 20,000 cases a year to get resolved this way," she said.

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