New workplace problem-solving process
Following the Dispute Resolution Review (DRR) and since 6 April 2009, the government has changed the way we deal with problems at work. There is now:
Encouraging better and more direct workplace communication will reduce the chance of problems going to an employment tribunal – as well as saving everyone time and money.
Whether you are a manager or an employee, there is more help to stop workplace problems developing into something more serious.
- An enhanced Acas Helpline (08457 47 47 47) open from 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
- A free new Acas early conciliation service, available through the Acas Helpline, will help resolve workplace problems that seem impossible to resolve.
- A revised Acas Code of Practice 1 on disciplinary and grievance procedures explains what's fair and 'reasonable' behaviour when tackling problems at work. See, www.acas.org.uk/dgcode2009
- A revised non-statutory guide provides more information on handling discipline and grievance solutions in the workplace.
- A joint leaflet has been produced by BERR, CIPD and Acas to inform employers about the changes to dealing with workplace disputes: Discipline and Grievance: Leaflet for employers [147kb]
- A joint leaflet has been produced by BERR, CIPD, TUC, Citizens Advice Bureau and Acas to inform employees about the changes to dealing with workplace disputes: Problems at work: Leaflet for employees [246kb]
- As of 6 April, Acas' previous statutory duty to provide conciliation in circumstances that could become the subject of employment tribunal proceedings is now a discretionary power. Download the Acas note, Conciliation and tribunals [81kb] that describes the criteria, agreed by the Acas Council, that our conciliators will use when deciding whether they can exercise the power to conciliate in these cases.
Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC) pilot
The evaluation summary report of this pilot showed cost and time savings to both employers and employees involved in the pilot and a net financial benefit to the taxpayer.
Ron Woods, Acas PCC Project Manager said:
"We welcome this positive report. In the light of feedback from participating colleagues (as described in paras 2.7.4 and 2.7.5), Acas has revised the target service standard and is offering a call back by the end of the second working day following the day of the initial contact now that the PCC service has been introduced across the country. Training for Helpline staff has been reviewed and enhanced, and steps are being taken to encourage close liaison between Helpline and conciliation teams."
What do I do now?
The new Employment Act became law in April 2009. If you are an employer you could:
- review your disciplinary and grievance procedures so they are compatible with the new law
- identify where a more relaxed and informal approach to dealing with problems at work may be appropriate
- consider including a mediation stage in your internal processes
- train your managers in how to deal with problems at an early stage to stop them from escalating where possible.
As an employee, consider the following.
- Keep an open mind about new ways of resolving work problems with colleagues. Sometimes the best solution is an open and honest discussion with your employer where you can agree between yourselves the best way of resolving them.
- If your employer suggests mediation give that some serious thought. A third party can often help you overcome problems that seem impossible to solve.
- If you have tried to resolve the problem through internal procedures (for instance, by pursuing a grievance) without reaching an outcome you feel you can accept, you may feel that the only thing you can do is make a claim to an employment tribunal. But in many cases, there will be other ways of solving your problem at work which will involve less cost, stress and time. Before considering a claim to the tribunal, consider calling the Acas Helpline to see what options might be open to you.
A series of training events has been launched across the country to establish what employers and employees should do when dealing with discipline and grievance issues. For course listings visit our Acas training course page and select discipline and grievance from the menu.