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Research papers

Acas' Research and Evaluation Section undertakes and commissions a range of in-depth research projects, findings from which are captured in our research papers series. These papers comprise both evaluations of Acas services and reports which contribute to wider employment relations debates. In addition to the PDFs below, hard copies of many research papers may also be ordered for free from our publication section on the website.

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WERS has been undertaken six times; most recently in 2011 (reporting in 2013).

See the information on the 2011 WERS and 'first findings'.

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Research papers 2014

  • pdf  MacLeod and Clarke’s Concept of Employee Engagement: An Analysis based on the Workplace Employment Relations Study [477kb] Ref: 08/14
    Joe Dromey (IPA)
    This research paper draws on the latest Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS) data to re-examine the four 'enablers of engagement' that David MacLeod and Nita Clarke described as lying behind successful engagement approaches in the 2009 MacLeod Report 'Engaging for Success'. Primarily based on statistical analysis of WERS 2011, it also draws on a literature review of research into employee engagement in order to look at how MacLeod and Clarke's 'enablers' have changed over time and how they vary across organisations and groups of employees. It also looks at how employer actions relate to the enablers of engagement, and the outcomes associated with them.
  • pdf  An evaluation of the impact of the internal workplace mediation training service [607kb] Ref: 07/14
    Andrea Broughton, Stefanie Ledermaier, Annette Cox (Institute for Employment Studies)
    A comprehensive evaluation of Acas Internal Workplace Mediation Training (which leads to the Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation accreditation). The research took the form of a telephone survey with mediators who had attended courses and case studies of three organisations, of which two had participated in Acas' in-house training. It sought to examine the longer-term effectiveness of the mediation course for the trainees and also to gain an insight into the effectiveness of the in-house training for organisations.
  • pdf  Workplace dispute resolution and the management of individual conflict – a thematic analysis of five case studies [433kb] Ref: 06/14
    Richard Saundry (Plymouth Graduate School of Management, Plymouth University) and Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, University of Central Lancashire)
    Substantial policy attention, but fairly little academic research, has been directed at the ways in which organisations respond to workplace conflict - especially the potential for earlier intervention to facilitate conflict resolution through the use of alternative approaches such as mediation. This thematic review aims to provide new insights into the challenges faced by organisations in managing workplace conflict by drawing on data gathered from discussions with HR practitioners, line and operational managers, employee representatives, and trained mediators as part of five organisational case-studies undertaken between 2009 and 2011.
  • pdf  Acas Workplace Training Evaluation 2013 [3Mb] Ref: 05/14
    Cat York, Sam Fettiplace and Dougal Jamieson (ORC International)
    This research aimed to provide a reliable picture of the short, medium and long-term impacts of Acas Workplace Training, and where possible to provide a comparison to previous research on Acas Workplace Training completed in 2008. The research employed three primary means of data collection: computer aided telephone interviews with training commissioners; case studies of commissioning organisations; and five longitudinal telephone interviews with five of the case study organisations.
  • pdf  Joint consultative committees under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations: A WERS analysis [372kb] Ref: 04/14
    Duncan Adam (IER, University of Warwick), John Purcell (School of Management, University of Bath) and Mark Hall (IRRU, University of Warwick)
    The second of two new Acas research papers based on secondary data analysis from the Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS). This report analyses survey data on joint consultative committees (JCCs) from the 2011 WERS in the context of wider research, paying particular attention to the effects of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations 2004. The paper examines the incidence, composition, operation and impact of JCCs, focusing on workplaces belonging to organisations with 50 or more employees that have a workplace- and/or higher-level JCC.
  • pdf  Worker representation in Great Britain 2004 – 2011: An analysis based on the Workplace Employment Relations Study [361kb] Ref: 03/14
    Andy Charlwood and David Angrave (Loughborough University)
    This report examines the incidence, role and impact of worker representatives (union and non-union) in British workplaces between 2004 and 2011 based on secondary data analysis from the Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS). It seeks to answer two key questions, first, has the scope and influence of union workplace organisation declined over the period 2004 - 2011, against the backdrop of recession? Second, what has happened to non-union representation in the context of the introduction of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations in 2005?
  • pdf  Measuring the Value and Impacts of Acas [138kb] Ref: TRI/14
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    This report provides evidence on the value and impact of Acas based on feedback from stakeholders and analysis of a range of evidence on Acas activities and their impact. The underlying data derive from service evaluations undertaken by independent research agencies, in addition to Acas management information. These data were originally collated for the 2013 Triennial Review of Acas, which, as with all Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), is subject to having its function, form and governance reviewed at least every three years.
  • pdf  User experiences of Acas 'Helpline Online': A qualitative evaluation of the new tool [805kb] Ref: 02/14
    Andrew Thomas and Emily Fu (TNS BMRB)
    This report presents the findings of the first ever evaluation of 'Helpline Online', Acas' automated web-based information and advice service, launched in 2013. The research sought to evaluate the new service at an early stage of its development, to both understand how it was working for users and also to check how it complements the existing telephone Helpline service. An online methodology of web-enabled focus groups was used, and 19 employers and employees were engaged as part of this research.
  • pdf  The effects of Agency Workers Regulations on agency and employer practice [742kb] Ref: 01/14
    Prof. Chris Forde and Dr Gary Slater (Leeds University Business School)
    This report looks at the effects of the Agency Working Regulations (AWR) on employer and agency practice. It presents recent statistical data on agency working from the Labour Force Survey, alongside findings from 28 interviews, conducted across 11 agencies, four user firms, union and industry representatives, along with a small number of agency temps. The research includes their perspectives on the new contracting forms between agencies, firms and agency temps that have emerged as a result, including the use of the Swedish Derogation model.

Research papers 2013

  • pdf  2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: The Acas experience [1Mb] Ref: 11/13
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games presented Acas with a series of challenges and opportunities for obviating the potential for disruption caused by workplace disputes.  In response, Acas set up a programme of work to provide an appropriate range of products and services for employers and employees affected by the Games, particularly in the London area. This summary paper reports on the story of Acas involvement, summarising its key Olympic services and outlining Acas' efforts to leave a legacy of good co-operation between itself, trade unions and employers as a result of working with them before and during the 2012 Games.
  • pdf  Home is where the work is: A new study of homeworking in Acas – and beyond [1Mb] Ref: 10/13
    Alexandra Beauregard, Kelly Basile and Esther Canonico (LSE Enterprise)
    Homeworking has evolved enormously as an employment practice both within and outside Acas since we first evaluated our own arrangements in 1997. This report offers an updated review of Acas' approach to homeworking based on new data collected among its employees via interviews, a quantitative survey and diary study. These are supplemented by a series of case studies of other UK organisations recognised for their flexible working practices, plus a comprehensive review of the relevant academic research literature. Taking this wide perspective and multiple data sources, the report seeks to better understand what factors contribute to successful homeworking arrangements both from an individual and organisational perspective.
  • pdf  Young people's views and experiences on entering the workplace [371kb] Ref: 09/13
    Martin Culliney and Andrea Broughton (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    This report summarises the findings of a small-scale exploratory research study on young people entering work, carried out in March and April 2013. The main aim of this study was to gather data directly from young workers to inform the development of Acas guidance for employers on employing young workers and those with relatively limited labour market experience. It is based on qualitative data exploring the views and experiences of the employment relationship amongst young people in Great Britain.
  • pdf  Acas website evaluation [1Mb] Ref: 08/13
    Ipsos MORI
    This report presents the findings from an evaluation of how employers and employees in Great Britain use and perceive the Acas website. The research used face-to-face in-home interviews, an online panel survey, a telephone survey and in-depth interviews to examine awareness of and use (and non-use) of the website, why and how the website is used, overall satisfaction with the website, outcomes of using the website and use of downloadable guidance and publications.
  • pdf  Acas Individual Mediation - feedback from participants and commissioners [319kb] Ref: 07/13
    Acas Research & Evaluation Section
    This paper reports findings from feedback questionnaires sent to participants in, and commissioners of Acas' charged-for individual mediation service in 2012/13. The report covers issues relating to the background of the mediation, perceptions of the process itself and parties' satisfaction with the outcome reached.
  • pdf  Evaluation of Acas' Pre-Claim Conciliation Service 2012 [526kb] Ref: 06/13
    TNS BMRB
    This paper reports on findings from a survey of employers and employees referred for Pre-Claim Conciliation during 2012. The research examines customer satisfaction with outcomes, perceptions of conciliator skills and behaviours and the impact of PCC on employment relationships. It compares findings with those from the last survey carried out in 2010 showing that satisfaction rates and ratings of conciliator skills remain high. The research also provides a baseline for comparison with Early Conciliation.
  • pdf  Evaluation of the Introduction of a Conciliation Support Team for the Pre-Claim Conciliation Service [942kb] Ref: 05/13
    TNS BMRB
    Early Conciliation is due to be rolled out in April 2014. To support the new service, Acas set up an experiment within the existing PCC service to explore whether the introduction of a team of Early Conciliation Support Officers (ECSOs) to collect basic contact details and gather factual information about the dispute would enhance the conciliator role. Research findings were generally positive in terms of the claimants experience, filtering cases and facilitating conciliation by providing a basis of factual information for conciliators to start their discussions.
  • pdf  Acas Individual Conciliation Survey 2012 [1Mb] Ref: 04/13
    Alex Thornton and Shadi Ghezelayagh (TNS BMRB)
    This report presents the findings of the fifth in a series of evaluations of Acas Individual Conciliation (IC), dating back to 2004. The 2012 customer survey was notable for being the final evaluation of IC ahead of the introduction of a new fees regime for Employment Tribunals in Summer 2013 and Early Conciliation (EC) in 2014; the findings provide a benchmark against which to make future comparisons from 2014 onwards. Results suggest that the high service standards observed in previous years have at the very least been maintained, with some indication that they have slightly improved in the last two years. Overall the service is found to be in good shape as it enters a new phase in the next year. 
  • pdf  The use of social media in the recruitment process [516kb] Ref: 03/13
    Andrea Broughton, Beth Foley, Stefanie Ledermaier and Annette Cox (IES)
    Building on previous work for Acas (see paper 11/11 below), this research project considers how and why employers use social media tools for recruitment, the risks and opportunities and the implications for provision of advice to managers, workers and employer and employee representative bodies. It also looks at the policies and strategies employers can put in place to manage legal and reputational risks. A comprehensive literature review is supplemented with case studies of three leading UK organisations that have used social media for the purposes of recruitment, plus the results of an exclusive poll of HR decision-makers undertaken on behalf of Acas in March 2013.
  • pdf  Workplace mediation: The participant experience [388kb] Ref: 02/13
    Richard Saundry (Plymouth University) and Tony Bennett & Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, University of Central Lancashire)
    This report looks at the longer term impact of workplace mediation on participants. The findings are based on 25 qualitative interviews with mediation participants. Fifteen of the 25 cases were mediated by Acas with a further six managed within in-house mediation schemes and four by a private mediation provider. The majority of the cases came from large, public sector organisations with access to HR advice and expertise and adds to existing work examining similar issues in small businesses.
  • pdf  Evaluating and Developing Acas Workplace Projects [939kb] Ref: 01/13
    Ipsos MORI
    This report presents the findings from a survey of 158 Acas Workplace Projects users for projects conducted from October 2010 - December 2011. These findings are supplemented with insights from four case studies of Workplace Projects and three workshops with HR professionals. Taken together, this research provides robust evidence for the impact of Acas Workplace Projects and presents an insight into customer views, particularly regarding the future of the service and how it can be improved.

Research papers 2012

  • pdf  Young people's awareness and use of sources of advice and information on problems and rights at work [453kb] Ref: 19/12
    Fiona Neathey (Acas Research and Evaluation Section) and Sarah Oxenbridge (Employment Research Australia)
    This report explores knowledge and awareness of Acas amongst young people, and in particular, young workers. It draws together evidence from a number of quantitative and qualitative data sources in order to explore the sources of information and advice young workers would potentially use if faced with problems in the workplace; young workers' actual experiences of problems in the workplace and actions taken to address these problems; and their awareness of and trust in Acas and its services.
  • pdf  Young people entering work: A review of the research [378kb] Ref: 18/12
    Sarah Oxenbridge and Justine Evesson (Employment Research Australia)
    A review of research examining young people's expectations of work, the challenges they face in starting work, and the means by which their transition to work may be improved. Undertaken in the context of high levels of youth unemployment in Britain in mid-2012, the review captures the perspectives of both young people and employers.
  • pdf  2011/12 Acas Collective Conciliation Evaluation [667kb] Ref: 17/12
    Chris Hale, George Barrett and Andrew Bryce (Ecorys UK)
    This report provides an evaluation of the conciliation service provided by Acas in collective employment disputes. The evaluation is based on a January 2012 telephone survey of 345 customers (employers and employee representatives) who used 'Collective Conciliation' between November 2010 - November 2011. The research measured and identified the determinants of successful outcomes and overall customer satisfaction as well as eliciting customers' views about the various impacts of the service.
  • pdf  Acas Individual Mediation 2011/12: Responses from participants and commissioners [261kb] Ref: 16/12
    Acas Research & Evaluation Section
    This paper reports findings from feedback questionnaires sent to participants in and commissioners of Acas' charged-for individual mediation service in 2011/12. The report covers issues relating to the background of the mediation, perceptions of the process itself and parties' satisfaction with the outcome reached.
  • pdf  Acas Helpline Evaluation 2011 - summary report [783kb] Ref: 15/12
    Cat York and Sam Fettiplace (ORC International)
    Findings from a survey carried out by ORC International of employers, employees and third parties who had called the Acas Helpline in 2011.
  • pdf  Why Pre-Claim Conciliation referrals become Employment Tribunal claims [878kb] Ref: 14/12
    TNS BMRB
    Research combining quantitative and qualitative methods to explore why Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC) referrals become Employment Tribunal claims. Previous research has shown PCC to be successful (e.g. Ref: 02/09 below), but there until now there has been limited evidence on the substance of PCC referrals that do result in an Employment Tribunal claim.
  • pdf  Employment relations in SMEs: Day-to-day advice-seeking and the role of intermediaries [736kb] Ref: 13/12
    Agnes Hann (Doctoral student, London School of Economics and Political Science)
    This report presents the results of qualitative research carried out with small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners and managers on how they access information, advice and other types of support in order to prevent and resolve day-to-day employment relations challenges.
  • pdf  Mediation and Early Resolution - A Case Study in Conflict Management [406kb] Ref: 12/12
    Richard Saundry and Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, Lancashire Business School)
    The fourth in a series of case studies exploring innovative approaches to conflict management in the workplace. The focus here is a large private business in the service sector working across the UK and in particular, the organisation's use of mediation in handling individualised conflict. This follows earlier papers on conflict resolution strategies; two in the public sector and one in a private sector organisation (see Acas Research Papers 01/11, 05/12 and 08/12, below).
  • pdf  Downsizing envoys: A public/private sector comparison [278kb] Ref: 11/12
    Dr Ian Ashman (Institute for Research into Organisation Work and Employment, University of Central Lancashire)
    This report explores the experiences of public 'downsizing envoys' - employees that have been tasked with breaking the (generally bad) news to staff about their potential job loss. It focuses on experiences in the private sector and contains comparative evidence drawn from an earlier study conducted in a sample of public sector workplaces (see 03/12, below).
  • pdf  The Diffusion of 'Good' HR Practices Across the Supply Chain [409kb] Ref: 10/12
    David Holman, Ryan Lamare, Damian Grimshaw, Lynn Holdsworth, & Mick Marchington (Manchester Business School, University of Manchester)
    This report provides an exploration of why and how organisations might influence the diffusion of HR practices across supply chains using a case study approach. Increasing the use of high performance working practices in suppliers can contribute directly to organisational success and lead to higher employee well-being, but it is not without its challenges, as the report discusses.
  • pdf  Segmenting the SME Market and Implications for Service Provision - A Literature Review [353kb] Ref: 09/12
    Professor Robert Blackburn (Kingston Business School, Kingston University London)
    There are a number of ways in which the SME market can be segmented and defined, but which characteristics are most appropriate for an effective engagement strategy is questionable. This report reviews the evidence published in academic, government and practitioner literatures, with a view to contributing to a framework for the segmentation of the SME market for Acas. In so doing, it aims to feed into the development of an appropriate strategy for Acas to better serve the SME population via its good practice services and dispute resolution services.
  • pdf  Conflict Resolution and Mediation at Bradford MDC - A Case Study [260kb] Ref: 08/12
    Richard Saundry (iROWE, Lancashire Business School)
    Taking as its starting premise that we perhaps need to look beyond mediation alone as a means of developing increased 'conflict competence' within organisations, this report explores the case of an organisation - Bradford Metropolitan District Council (MDC) - that has introduced a range of approaches in order to try to reshape the way in which conflict is managed and disputes handled. This is the latest in a series of Acas research papers exploring innovative approaches to conflict management in the workplace (see also 05/12 and 01/11, below).
  • pdf  Public sector employers' attitudes to use of Acas collective conciliation [337kb] Ref: 07/12
    Andrea Broughton and Annette Cox (IES)
    This report presents the findings of a series of qualitative interviews with public sector managers aimed at understanding their experiences of, attitudes towards and approaches to collective dispute resolution.  The research is an employer-focussed companion piece to three earlier, trade union-centred studies which have found that negotiators in the public sector are less likely to have used Acas collective conciliation than those in the private sector (see 09/11, 10/11 and 07/10, below).
  • pdf  Representation in Employment Tribunals: Analysis of the 2003 and 2008 SETA [750kb] Ref: 06/12
    Franz Buscha (Westminster University) , Peter Urwin (Westminster University) and Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University)
    This study reports the findings from an investigation of representation in employment tribunals, using the 2003 and 2008 Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications (SETA). The overall aim is to provide a comprehensive picture of representation in ET cases at the point of application (for claimant) and response (for employer), during the course of the claim, and at the point of any full hearing.
  • pdf  Managing Individual Conflict in the Private Sector - A Case Study [378kb] Ref: 05/12
    Richard Saundry and Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, Lancashire Business School)
    "Can managers develop ways in which the conditions that lead to formal disciplinary and grievance issues are either averted or remedied?" This report seeks to explore this question in greater detail by examining the ways in which a large UK retail organisation manages workplace conflict and seeks to resolve individual employment disputes. This report is one in a series of papers exploring innovative approaches to conflict management in the workplace.
  • pdf  Report of the Second Employment Tribunal/Acas pilot on attendance of Acas individual conciliators at Case Management Discussions [236kb] Ref: 04/12
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    Case Management Discussions (CMD) are conducted in more complex Employment Tribunal cases. This report covers the findings of the second pilot study Acas has undertaken with the ETS to explore the possibility that the attendance of an Acas conciliator at a CMD would increase the chances of case resolution. The second pilot took place in 2010 and aimed to build on the findings of the first study and to give a clear steer on whether there would be benefits in adopting this approach. 
  • pdf  ‘The nature of bad news infects the teller’: The experiences of envoys in the face to face delivery of downsizing initiatives in UK public sector organisations [288kb] Ref: 03/12
    Dr Ian Ashman (Institute for Research into Organisation Work and Employment, University of Central Lancashire)
    This report explores the experiences of those public sector employees that have been given the task of delivering the generally bad news of downsizing decisions face-to-face with the victims and then deal with the immediate repercussions. The aim of the research is to better understand the demands that being a 'downsizing envoy' places on individuals undertaking the role and, in particular, how the public sector context impacts upon those demands. 24 envoys were interviewed, drawn from nine public sector organisations operating in the North West of England.
  • pdf  Addressing discrimination in the workplace on multiple grounds - the experience of trade union Equality Reps [188kb] Ref: 02/12
    Sian Moore, Tessa Wright and Hazel Conley (Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University and Queen Mary, University of London)
    This report provides some insight into the complexities of dealing with multiple discrimination from the experiences of trade union Equality Reps, suggesting that multiple discrimination can be difficult to identify, and may include characteristics outside of the protected equality grounds. The existence of a 'glass ceiling' leads to combined discrimination of gender and age.
  • pdf  The experience of discrimination on multiple grounds [280kb] Ref: 01/12
    Maria Hudson (Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster)
    This report explores the experiences of multiple discrimination of Employment Tribunals claimants and reviews some case reports from Citizens Advice Bureaux and considers the issues of multiple identities, the role of workplace culture and advice and support needs of people experiencing discrimination.

Research papers 2011

  • pdf  Looking Back to Move Forward - Assessing the Impacts of Acas Workplace Projects [777kb] Ref: 15/11
    Jon Cooper (Acas)
    Acas workplace projects are carried out in organisations throughout England, Wales and Scotland by Acas to improve employment relations within workplaces using joint problem solving and joint working. This report merges data from three telephone surveys of management and employee participants to evaluate the impact of workplace projects over a three and a half year period. The report starts with a look back of this Acas service over its life span before highlighting key findings from the data to give an overarching assessment of the context and impacts of workplace projects to inform the future of this service.
  • pdf  A survey to assess the impact of Acas Open Access training services [788kb] Ref: 14/11
    Elizabeth Kwaw, Ros Grimes and Andrew Bryce (Ecorys)
    Acas evaluates all training courses immediately after each event via customer feedback forms, however this report represents a more in-depth evaluation based on longer questionnaires with Acas' main commissioning clients, 3-9 months post-training. The report discusses the impacts of 'Open Access' training detailing the medium to long-term organisational effects of the service and comparing impacts and effectiveness of different topic/product types to evaluate and improve the service.
  • pdf  Mediation: A Thematic Review of the Acas/CIPD Evidence [806kb] Ref: 13/11
    Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University)
    The growing policy interest in mediation mirrors Acas' ongoing commitment to encouraging and supporting early dispute resolution in the workplace. Dr Latreille's thematic review of mediation in the workplace provides an overview of the key issues relating to mediation - its benefits, risks and the challenges in establishing effective mediation arrangements at work.
  • pdf  Acas Mediation 2010/11: Responses from participants and commissioners [217kb] Ref: 12/11
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    This paper reports findings from feedback questionnaires sent to participants in and commissioners of Acas mediation in 2010/11. The report covers issues relating to the background of the mediation, how participants felt about the process and explores mediation outcomes and parties' satisfaction with outcome.
  • pdf  Workplaces and Social Networking: The Implications for Employment Relations [386kb] Ref: 11/11
    Andrea Broughton, Tom Higgins, Ben Hicks and Annette Cox (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    This report sets out the results of a exploratory research project examining the implications of social networking and mobile information and communications technologies in the workplace. It seeks to inform the development of Acas guidance for managers on handling employment relations issues arising from employee use of social networking tools, and identify and explore research gaps. 
  • pdf  Trade Union Officers and Collective Conciliation - A Secondary Analysis [1Mb] Ref: 10/11
    Edmund Heery and David Nash (Cardiff Business School)
    This report presents a secondary analysis of survey data collected by the Labour Research Department (LRD) on behalf of Acas in 2010. The report builds upon this initial work and presents a secondary analysis of the dataset, distinguished principally by a fuller statistical examination of patterns of variation in trade union officers' use of Acas collective conciliation. The report also takes in an examination of the characteristics of union officers themselves as well as an exploration of the incidence and characteristics of industrial disputes.
  • pdf  Trade union officers’ preferences and attitudes towards dispute resolution [384kb] Ref: 09/11
    Chris Bond (WREAC Doctoral Student, University of Sheffield)
    This paper reports on a qualitative follow-up study to an earlier survey of trade union negotiating officials undertaken by the Labour Research Department (LRD) on behalf of Acas in 2010. Eighteen in-depth interviews with officials who had made little or no use of Acas collective conciliation in the past decade were undertaken to more fully understand this group's preferences and attitudes - their favoured methods for resolving ER disputes, their knowledge of Acas collective conciliation and, in particular, any views that might be deterring them from using Acas.
  • pdf  Workplace conflict management: A poll of business [509kb] Ref: 08/11
    Matt Williams and Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    This report presents the findings from a telephone poll of owners, finance directors and other senior financial decision-makers across small and medium/large businesses. Respondents were asked about grievance and disciplinary handling in their organisation, and asked to consider the impact of the new Acas Code of Practice and guidance on arrangements. They were also asked about their awareness and use of mediation as a tool for resolving workplace disputes.
  • pdf  The Dispute Resolution Regulations two years on: the Acas experience [467kb] Ref: 07/11
    Barbara Davey and Gill Dix (Acas Research and Evaluation Section)
    Following the 2007 Gibbons Review of Dispute Resolution, Acas has played a key role in implementing the policy changes that emerged. This report sets out progress over the two years since the implementation of the 2008 Employment Act in April 2009. The evidence presented provides a benchmark for future monitoring of dispute resolution activities and outcomes, and highlights what Acas is doing more widely to promote the Gibbons agenda.
  • pdf  Evaluation of the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures [550kb] Ref: 06/11
    Nilufer Rahim, Ashley Brown and Jenny Graham (NatCen)
    A qualitative evaluation of the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. The new Code, which replaced the old statutory 3-step procedures in 2009, introduced a principles-based good practice approach.  36 in-depth interviews were undertaken to explore how the new Code is understood and used by employers, employees and their representatives and to explore the impact of Code upon disciplinary and grievance procedures.
  • pdf  The role of employment agencies in pay setting [344kb] Ref: 05/11
    Chris Forde (Leeds University Business School) and Gary Slater (University of Bradford)
    Report on a small pilot study to provide evidence and understanding of how temporary work agencies set pay levels and, where they do not set pay, the extent to which they influence pay. This report provides a detailed account of the variety of practices and different type of contracts entered into by agencies and the indirect role of setting profit margins in influencing pay.
  • pdf  SETA survey of representatives in Tribunal cases 2008 [1Mb] Ref: 04/11
    Carrie Harding and Erica Garnett (TNS-BMRB)
    This report presents the findings from the survey of representatives that was undertaken as part of SETA 2008. The main aim of the 2008 survey was to obtain a specialist perspective on the system of employment rights litigation with a particular interest in understanding the views of representatives about the role of Acas conciliators in the process.
  • pdf  Unlocking Engagement: A Review of the 'Innovative Workplaces' Initiative [1Mb] Ref: 03/11
    Lynette Harris, Alan Tuckman, Derek Watling and Bernadette Downes (Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University)
    This report presents an evaluation of the 'Innovative Workplaces' Initiative. This programme of work, funded by the East Midlands Development Agency, offered in-depth support to ten diverse organisations seeking to improve organisational  performance. The report offers evidence to support the argument that improvements in communication and employee engagement lead to positive performance outcomes for organisations.
  • pdf  Service user perceptions of Acas’ conciliation in Employment Tribunal cases 2010 [1Mb] Ref: 02/11
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section and Infogroup/ORC International
    This report presents the findings from the latest in a series of Individual Conciliation customer surveys, undertaken in 2010. In addition to exploring customer experiences, it also compares key differences in customers' views between 2007 and 2010. Once again the results from the survey are positive and further highlight the value of Acas involvement in Employment Tribunal cases.
  • pdf  Transforming Conflict Management in the Public Sector - Mediation Trade Unions and Partnerships in a Primary Care Trust [578kb] Ref: 01/11
    Richard Saundry, Louise McArdle and Pete Thomas (the Institute for Research into Organisations, Work and Employment (iROWE) at the University of Central Lancashire)
    An important and timely contribution to Acas' research into the use of mediation as a method for responding to individual grievances and disciplinary matters in the workplace. This research is based on an in-depth exploratory case-study of East Lancashire Primary Care Trust. ELPCT provided a useful setting in which to examine the extent to which the introduction of an in-house mediation scheme triggered sustainable changes in the way in which the organisation manages individual conflict.

Research papers 2010

  • pdf  Social Dialogue and the changing role of Conciliation, Arbitration and Mediation Services in Europe (CAMS): A five country study of third party dispute resolution [286kb] Ref: 09/10
    Steve Jefferys with Nick Clark, Sylvie Contrepois, Gill Dix, Fiona Neathey, Marinus Pires Lima, Volker Telljohann and Joanna Unterschutz
    The CAMS project brought together social partners, public authorities and industrial relations experts from France, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK to exchange information about the development of conciliation, arbitration and mediation services in Europe against the background of changing trends in individual and collective conflicts at work. This report brings together findings from all five of the States that were involved in the study.
  • pdf  Evaluation of the first year of Acas' Pre-Claim Conciliation service [569kb] Ref: 08/10
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section & Infogroup/ORC International
    This report describes the findings from the first evaluation of Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC) since it was rolled out nationally in April 2009. The research involved a survey of more than 1000 PCC service users (employers, employees and representatives), in-depth interviews with employers and employees who declined the offer of PCC as well as interviews with parties involved in successfully resolved cases. The wide-ranging nature of the research gives a rounded picture of the effectiveness of PCC in its first year.
  • pdf  Trade union negotiating officials' use and non-use of Acas conciliation in industrial disputes [677kb] Ref: 07/10
    Clare Ruhemann (Labour Research Department)
    This report describes the findings of an exploratory research project investigating trade union officials' experience of dealing with collective employment disputes, the extent of their use of Acas 'collective conciliation' as a strategy for resolving disputes and their reasons for any non-use. The focal point of the research was a full, structured survey to map officials' views, strategies and behaviours: 1,024 officials from 63 trade unions responded, making this one of the most comprehensive surveys of paid union negotiating officials in recent times.
  • pdf  Mediation at work: of success, failure and fragility [277kb] Ref: 06/10
    Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University)
    This paper explores how employer attitudes to mediation vary according to the outcome of the most recent case. It uses data from  survey of employers undertaken by the CIPD in conjunction with Acas. This is the first occasion that multivariate modelling of mediation outcomes has been undertaken in the UK setting.
  • pdf  SME attitudes towards workplace mediation: the role of experience [277kb] Ref: 05/10
    Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University), Franz Buscha and Anna Conte (Westminster Business School)
    This paper contributes to the workplace mediation debate by undertaking secondary analysis of an Acas Omnibus Poll of SMEs. Two substantive issues are explored: the characteristics associated with previous experience of mediation in resolving workplace conflict; and the impact of prior knowledge and experience of mediation in this context.
  • pdf  An evaluation of the Acas in-depth advisory service [603kb] Ref: 04/10
    Author: Derek Mitchell and Wendy Mitchell (Alpha Research Ltd)
    The in-depth advice Acas offers is a free service delivered either by telephone or in person. The service is accessed primarily on behalf of employers and offers advice on addressing employment relations issues within the workplace, which are often of a highly complex nature. This paper reports on the findings of a survey of employers who accessed the service between May and October 2009.
  • pdf  Acas Helpline evaluation 2009 [1Mb] Ref: 03/10
    Author: Alex Thornton and Nic Fitzgerald (TNS-BMRB)
    Report on a mixed-methods evaluation of the Acas Helpline, carried out by TNS-BMRB. This paper focuses on a two-wave survey of callers undertaken to measure the effect of various changes to the service during 2009. A complementary phase of qualitative research, probing more deeply into issues covered within and raised by the surveys, is also reported on.
  • pdf  Report of the Employment Tribunal/Acas pilot on attendance of Acas individual conciliators at Case Management Discussions [183kb] Ref: 02/10
    Author: Acas Research & Evaluation Section (based on research conducted by Chris Farrell and Robin Legard)
    Case Management Discussions (CMD) are conducted in more complex Employment Tribunal cases. In 2009, Acas and the ETS conducted a pilot to explore the possibility that the attendance of an Acas conciliator at a CMD would increase the chances of case resolution without recourse to a full hearing. This report describes a qualitative evaluation of the pilot and puts forward some considerations for any future roll-out of the service.
  • pdf  An Integrated Evaluation of Acas Workplace Projects [748kb] Ref: 01/10
    Authors: Andrea Broughton, Daniel Pearmain and Annette Cox (Institute for Employment Studies)
    Acas 'Workplace Projects' (renamed as 'Business and Skills Solutions' in 2008/09) are carried out in organisations throughout England, Wales and Scotland by Acas Advisers. Their purpose is to improve employment relations within workplaces by involving employers and employee representatives in joint problem solving and joint working. This report integrates the findings from the most recent qualitative and quantitative research on the impact of Workplace Projects/ Business and Skills Solutions.

Research papers 2009

  • pdf  The Employment of Migrant Labour in the East Midlands [263kb] Ref: 04/09
    Authors: Alan Tuckman and Lynette Harris (Nottingham Business School)
    The second of two new research studies on employer use of migrant labour - this shorter paper is based on interviews at three case study companies in the East Midlands.  It considers the impact that employment of migrant workers has had on human resources and employers' practices at this significant destination for migrant workers from the EU Accession States.
  • pdf  Employer use of migrant labour -motivations, experiences and HR responses [454kb] Ref: 03/09
    Author: Sonia McKay (Working Lives Research Institute)
    The first of two new research studies on the employment of migrant labour - this report was based on interviews with a range of managers at six case study companies in the hotel and catering and construction sectors.  It investigates the procedural and employment relations challenges surrounding the employment of migrant labour, with a particular focus on whether HR policies and practices influence the employment of migrant workers; and also whether their use has a subsequent impact on HR arrangements
  • pdf  Pre-Claim Conciliation pilot – Evaluation summary report [183kb] Ref: 02/09
    Authors: Ann Denvir, Siobhán O'Regan, Matthew Williams, Annette Cox, Daniel Pearmain and Hülya Hooker (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    The Acas Pre-Claim Conciliation Service (PCC) aims to identify workplace disputes between employers and employees which may become employment tribunal claims and resolve them effectively before they enter the tribunal system. The findings of this evaluation show cost and time savings to both employers and employees involved in this pilot and a net financial benefit to the taxpayer. Employers, employees and their representatives report high levels of satisfaction with case outcomes and with the Acas PCC service during the pilot.
  • pdf  Management handling of sexual orientation, religion and belief in the workplace [561kb] (Ref: 01/09)
    Authors: Sarah Dickens, Martin Mitchell and Chris Creegan (NatCen)
    A new research study draws directly on employers' experiences of managing sexual orientation, religion and belief at work. Joint-funded by Acas and the CIPD, the research explores experience of SORB issues among employers and managers; the challenges they face; examples of good practice; and the generation of solutions. This practical-minded research report sets out creative new solutions and strategies for handling these key aspects of employing people in the workplace.

Acas-sponsored reports on the impact of the Information and Consultation Directive

Acas commissioned research in collaboration with BIS and the CIPD on the impact of the Information and Consultation Directive. The research, carried out by Warwick University, involved a series of case studies in small, medium sized and larger workplaces. Companies were visited across a period of three years in order to explore progress on consultation arrangements.

Click to download the four reports that have been published so far from the BIS website (all open in new windows).

Research papers 2008

  • pdf  Service users perceptions of Acas’ conciliation in Employment Tribunal cases 2007 [501kb] (Ref: 07/08)
    Authors: Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS)
    Independently written by TNS Social Research, this report presents findings from the 2007 survey of customers of the Acas Individual Conciliation Service, and also compares key differences in customers' views between 2005 and 2007. The results from the survey are positive and highlight the value of Acas involvement in Employment Tribunal cases.
  • pdf  Accompaniment and representation in workplace discipline and grievance [508kb] (Ref: 06/08)
    Authors: Richard Saundry, Valerie Antcilff and Carol Jones (University of Central Lancashire)
    This report describes the findings of a pilot study which explored the impact of the accompaniment and representation of employees within disciplinary and grievance processes. The research focussed on eight case studies of employing organisations and was carried out in April and May 2008. Interviews were conducted with Human Resource managers, operational managers, trade union representatives and employee companions.
  • pdf  Acas conciliation in collective employment disputes [557kb] (Ref: 05/08)
    Authors: Alex Dawe and Fiona Neathey (Acas Research and Evaluation Section)
    This report provides a wide-ranging evaluation of the conciliation service provided by Acas in collective employment disputes. It draws particularly on research conducted over the 2006-7 period, together with research from previous academic studies to provide an overview of the nature and outcomes of Acas work in this area.
  • pdf  Acas workplace training impact survey 2008 [614kb] (Ref: 04/08)
    Authors: Jonny Gifford, Emanuela Carta and Annette Cox (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    Acas regularly evaluates customer attitudes towards its training provision, however, in the case of its bespoke Workplace Training service, this has previously been limited to collecting immediate feedback from trainees. This report describes the findings of the first ever survey to assess the medium- to long-term organisational effects of the service.  By interviewing main commissioning clients, 3-15 months post-intervention, the survey evaluated the impacts of Workplace Training on its customers, particularly with regard to the promotion of effective employment relations, providing a rich source of new information.
  • pdf  Conflict at work: The pattern of disputes in Britain since 1980 [279kb] (Ref: 03/08)
    Authors: Gill Dix (Acas), John Forth (NIESR) and Keith Sission (University of Warwick)
    This paper investigates the scale and causes of the decline in collective expressions of conflict and the concurrent growth in the individualised expression of conflict in the part quarter century in Britain. It also draws upon a wider range of indicators and sources to investigate changes in the overall level of workplace discontent and the role of workplace institutions.
  • pdf  Knowledge and use of mediation in SMEs [189kb] (Ref: 02/08)
    Author: Tim Johnston (Acas Research and Evaluation Section)
    Following on from the recommendations from Gibbons for an increased use of mediation, Acas commissioned research to look at the level of knowledge and use of mediation within Small and Medium Enterprises. This report presents the results of telephone interviews with the decision maker of 500 SMEs.
  • pdf  Small firms and workplace disputes resolution [519kb] (Ref: 01/08)
    Prepared by: Lynette Harris, Alan Tuckman and Jereme Snook (Nottingham Trent University) and Stephanie Tailby, Sue Hutchinson and Janet Winters (University of the West of England)
    Research concerning the experiences and views of managers in SMEs regarding methods for dispute resolution. The study was carried out by a collaborative team from Nottingham Trent University and University of West of England. The report is especially relevant as Acas turns it attention to the recommendations stemming from the 2007 Gibbons Review of Dispute Resolution.

Research papers 2007

Research papers 2006

Research papers 2005

Research papers 2004

Research papers 2003

Earlier papers

  • pdf  Operating with Style [220kb]
    Author: Gill Dix
    An issue of particular importance in bringing about an out-of-court settlement in a dispute is the mediation techniques used to resolve the situation. This paper is a systematic account of the operating styles of Acas conciliators based upon interviews with the conciliation parties.
  • pdf  Work and Employment Relations in Kent [208kb]
    Author: Geoff White, Jan Druker and Mike Edmunds
    This report details the results of a survey of employment practices and policies at workplaces in Kent. The survey was conducted in the summer of 2001 and was carried out by the University of Greenwich Business School with financial support from Acas South Eastern Area.

Acas Individual Conciliation 1998 (RP01)
Author: Jane Lewis and Robin Legard (Social and Community Planning Research)
This report gives a detailed account of what applicants, respondent s and their representatives want from conciliation, how they see the process and how satisfied they are with the service they receive. This paper is not available to download. Hard copies are available from our publication section of the website

An Evaluation of Homeworking in Acas (RP02)
Author: Ursula Huws, Siobhan O'Regan and Sheila Honey (Institute for Employment Studies)
A report on the experiences of Acas home workers, of particular interest to those who would like to initiate or develop a homeworking strategy and those assessing the impact of existing homeworking arrangements. This paper is not available to download. Hard copies are available from our publication section of the website.

Employment relations in Britain: 25 years of Acas (MP01)
Author: Brian Towers and William Brown (Eds.)
A collection of papers written by a range of experts in employment relations, commissioned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Acas, covering its past work and future challenges. This paper is not available to download.

Contact the research team

If you require further information about Acas' research papers or wish to contact the Acas research team, please email research@acas.org.uk.

Please note: we cannot offer employment advice via email. For free confidential help and information on work related issues, see the Acas Helpline.

Workplace Futures conference, Reading, 6 November 2014