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High demand for Acas services continues

Wednesday 28 July 2010

  • High success rate in settling disputes between employers and unions
  • Record number of individual conciliation cases
  • Free early conciliation service prevents disputes turning into ET claims
  • Acas helpline takes a record number of calls.

Acas' 2009/10 annual report shows that it dealt with over 900 collective disputes in the past year. Ninety four per cent of cases, including high profile disputes such as Royal Mail and Milford Haven Port Authority, were either resolved or the parties were moved towards a resolution.  

The report also shows that Acas dealt with over 85,000 (net) employment tribunal cases(i) for individual conciliation, an overall increase of 13 per cent from 2008/2009 and the highest number ever. While the figure was a record for the year as a whole the trend is now in reverse - the number of cases received for conciliation in the second half of 2009/10 was 3 percent lower than the equivalent period in 2008/09.

Nearly 10,000 cases were referred to pre-claim conciliation in 09/10 - the early conciliation service which aims to resolve workplace issues before they escalate into costly and stressful tribunal claims. In 70 per cent of completed cases where PCC was appropriate, tribunal claims have been avoided, saving time and money for taxpayers, employers and workers(ii). It is estimated that completing employment tribunal paper work alone costs employers on average £2,000 a case(iii).

With a million calls, it was also a record year for the Acas helpline which provides advice and guidance to employers and employees on workplace problems. Redundancy, dismissals and discipline and grievance were the most popular topics. And there were nearly four million visits to the Acas website which provides good practice advice and guidance, including practical tools to improve workplace effectiveness such as the new Acas Model Workplace.

Acas continues to play a critical role in helping employers find more creative ways to avoid redundancy and boost economic recovery with more than 20,000 employers and employees attending an Acas training course during the year.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair, said:

"Our new free early conciliation service is a real success story. It has contributed to the downturn in new employment tribunal claims in the second half of the year. Employers who have used the service tell us that they are particularly impressed by the way it resolves disputes much more quickly than tribunal claims.

"We continue to deal first hand with the effects of recession and the immense strain it places on workplace relations. We are seeing signs of improvement with employers and unions taking a more pragmatic approach by working together, looking at ways to try and save jobs and avoid redundancy. This is in stark contrast to previous recessions."

"Overall Acas provides excellent value - every pound of taxpayers' money invested in it creates a return of up to £16."

The Acas 2009/10 annual report is available to download from our Annual reports and plans page.

Notes for editors

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.

(i) Net figures for employment tribunal cases received for conciliation are obtained by adjusting the gross number of claims to take account of multiple cases. For example, if 100 claims against the same employer all arise from the same circumstances, and all the claimants have the same representative, Acas counts this as one net case. Net figures are a better measure of conciliation workload and outcomes than gross figures, which tend to be skewed by a small number of very large multiple claims. See also endnote ii.

(ii) In addition, Acas conciliated in and resolved 25,503 potential equal pay cases against local authorities before claims were submitted to employment tribunals.

(i) Impact Assessment of Dispute Resolution Review, BIS

  • Clare Carter, Press and PR Manager on 020 7210 3688
  • Lou Owen, Media and Marketing Officer on 020 7210 3920.