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Research shows that seeking early advice averts tribunals

Monday 22 October 2007

  • 16,000 employment tribunals averted as Acas helps business save £120 million
  • Discipline, dismissal and grievance are the biggest issues for employers

New independent research released today has revealed that seeking advice on workplace problems helps avert employment tribunals, saving businesses millions of pounds.

Commissioned by employment relations service Acas, the research showed that its helpline helped to avoid around 16,000 employment tribunals last year, saving £120 million. It also identified redundancy, lay-offs and business transfers as the biggest workplace worries for British employees.

Information provided by the Acas telephone helpline was found to be valuable in assisting employees to be aware of their rights and seek solutions to their problems, and as a result were spared the costs and anxieties linked with putting in a tribunal claim.

Carried out by the Institute for Employment Studies, the Acas helpline Survey 2007 was undertaken with employers, employees and third parties who had used the Acas national helpline. It showed that almost a quarter (23%) of employees had been considering making an employment tribunal claim before calling, but of this percentage, almost a third (30%) decided against pursuing a claim as a result of the information provided, meaning 16,000 were averted.

In addition, almost half of the employers who responded said that their call to the helpline had prompted them to update or improve existing policies at their workplace, and 45% reported that their call had motivated them to implement new policies. Around three-quarters of all tribunal claims are resolved before they go to a hearing, often with Acas' help. But the cost in financial terms and the stress these cases cause is still too high.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair (designate):

"These findings show that talking things through can make a huge difference. Clearly there are savings to be made for both business and the individual. Employment tribunals can be expensive, time-intensive and stressful. As well as using our helpline service and website, we are urging businesses and employees to take a 'prevention over cure' approach and stop these types of problem escalating to employment tribunals."

Other findings showed that male callers were more likely to have been considering making an employment tribunal claim (29%, compared to 20% of women), as were callers from the construction industry (28%), and those working in distribution, retail, hotels and restaurants.

Notes to editors

  1. Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members.
  2. Around 233,000 employees called the Acas helpline in 2006. According to the survey, 23% of these had been considering taking a claim to an Employment Tribunal before their call. This equates to c.54,000 people over the course of the year. Of these, the survey shows 30% or approximately 16,000 decided against making a claim and rated their call as important in helping them to reach that decision.
  3. In 2006/07 the Acas helpline answered 839,335 calls.

Copies of Acas' research paper Acas helpline survey 2007 are available by visiting our research page.

For press enquiries please contact:

  • Lou Owen on 020 7210 3920
  • Kimberley Huggins on 020 7210 3894. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07900 406992.

Calculation of figure:

16,190 (number of diverted tribunals) multiplied by £7,484* = £121,165, 960

*Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has shown that: The average cost associated with an employment tribunal claim that employers face is £7,484