ACAS early conciliation certificate issued before resignation

In the case of Compass Group UK & Ireland Ltd v Morgan, the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that an early conciliation certificate issued by ACAS covered a claim of constructive dismissal, even though the claimant had not resigned by the time ACAS had issued it.

Facts
Mrs Morgan was employed by Compass Group UK (Compass) and in October 2014 she submitted a grievance after she was moved to a different location in a less senior role. She contacted ACAS about those matters while still in employment and she received an early conciliation certificate on 3 January 2015. On 18 March 2015, she resigned from her employment and subsequently lodged a claim for constructive dismissal.

Compass argued that Mrs Morgan could not pursue her claim because the requirement to undergo early conciliation had not been fulfilled. Her dismissal had not occurred at the time of the conciliation and it argued that any cause of action arising after the date of the early conciliation certificate must be separately notified to ACAS.

The Employment Tribunal allowed her claim to proceed on the basis that it related to a sequence of events that were in issue between the parties at the time of the early conciliation process. Compass appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

Decision
The EAT noted that there is no requirement for a prospective claimant to provide to ACAS details of an actual or prospective dispute or cause of action. The only requirement is for the prospective claimant to provide prescribed information relating to any matter.

The EAT observed that ‘matter’ is a broad and flexible term and the ‘prescribed information’ is basic information limited to the names and addresses of the prospective claimant and respondent. Provided that the employment tribunal claim relates to the matters properly notified to ACAS, the claim can proceed.

On the facts, the EAT held that Mrs Morgan’s constructive dismissal proceedings related to a sequence of events that were in issue at the time of the early conciliation process and it allowed her claim to proceed. It did not matter that she resigned after the early conciliation certificate had been issued.

Comment
This is a helpful decision for claimants but it does not mean it will be possible to rely upon an early conciliation certificate when bringing unrelated proceedings. It remains for the Employment Tribunal to determine whether the proceedings relate to the matters notified to ACAS and respondents should continue to ask the Employment Tribunal to determine the issue where that is in doubt.

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Kerry Garcia

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