The Acas Arbitration Scheme is an alternative to employment tribunal hearings. Only cases of unfair dismissal or claims under flexible working legislation may be decided. Acas was given powers to draw up the Scheme in the Employment Rights (Dispute Resolution) Act 1998.
The Scheme was introduced as a speedy, informal, private and generally less legalistic alternative to an employment tribunal hearing. It’s designed to provide a final outcome more quickly and one which mirrors the outcomes available in an employment tribunal. There are few grounds for challenging the arbitrator’s award and appeals can only be made in limited circumstances.
Hearings are conducted by arbitrators from the Acas panel of independent arbitrators. They are chosen for their impartiality, knowledge, skills and employment relations experience. They are appointed on a case-by-case basis and not directly employed by Acas.
Once both parties have signed an agreement to come to arbitration under the Scheme, an employment tribunal can no longer hear the claim. It is important that everyone involved knows this, and how the arbitration process works. For this reason, you can only agree to go to arbitration with the assistance of an Acas conciliator, or through a Settlement Agreement signed after you have taken advice from a relevant independent adviser. The Settlement Agreement must conform to the requirements of the Employment Rights Act 1996.
The hearing is private, there is a bar on any further tribunal hearing on the claim and the arbitrator can award reinstatement or compensation. The decision of the arbitrator is final. There is no appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
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