Conciliation is a voluntary and confidential first step to resolve unfair dismissal disputes. If the employer and employee agree to take part, a Commission staff member leads the discussion.
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Conciliation is the first step
A conciliation is the first step in the unfair dismissal process, but it is voluntary. We organise a conciliation as soon as possible after we receive the application. It takes place usually between 2 and 5 weeks later.
The employer or employee can choose not to take part or tell us you no longer wish to participate.
We send both parties a date and time. Unless you ask us to change it, and we agree, you must take part. If you do not take part on the day, we will ask you for a reason. We use that reason to decide whether to:
- set up a new date and time for the conciliation
- refer the case to a hearing in front of a Commission Member.
We only change the date and time if you have an important reason why you cannot take part. If you want to delay or change the conciliation, you must ask us for an adjournment.
If you choose not to take part
As the conciliation process is voluntary, you can let us know if you don't want to take part. You can tell us at any time. If you can, tell us as soon as you make that decision and no later than the day before your conciliation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your case ('matter') number.
We may contact you to discuss your decision and explain the next steps. Even if you don't take part in conciliation, the application doesn't stop. The case moves to a formal hearing, and you may lose the chance for a conciliation at a later stage.
If you are the employer and you have not yet given us your response, you will probably need to do that to prepare for any hearing.
Conciliation is not as formal as a hearing
To help you avoid a formal hearing or conference, we set up a conciliation. A conciliator leads the discussion but does not give you legal advice, decide what happened or decide who is right or wrong. Read more about the role of a conciliator.
A conciliation is different from a hearing in several important ways:
- You discuss the unfair dismissal case in a less formal way with a conciliator over the phone or in a virtual meeting, not in front of a Member.
- The conciliation takes about 90 minutes, but formal proceedings can last for up to a day and sometimes longer.
- You don’t need to prepare evidence or submissions for a conciliation, which can save you a lot of time and effort.
- The outcomes of a conciliation can be more flexible than a formal hearing or conference.
- We do not publish the binding decision about the case on the website if the parties settle at conciliation.
You do not have to settle at a conciliation
The employee and employer do not have to reach an agreement during the conciliation. Either side can refuse to settle.
If you do not settle in a conciliation, your case proceeds to a hearing or conference in front of a Member unless the employee decides to stop their application.