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Acas helpline advice critical to long-term workplace improvements

Friday 19 November 2010

  • An estimated 16,000 employment tribunal cases avoided last year following calls to the helpline
  • Calls resulted in employers updating or improving existing policies in the workplace.

Independent research published by employment relations service Acas highlights how seeking early advice on workplace problems can help avoid the stress and costs of an employment tribunal.

The research - which was carried out in January and October 2009 - asked a combined total of 3,903 employers, employees and third party callers about their experience of having phoned the helpline last year.

The findings highlight that of the third of employees who indicated that they had been considering making a claim to an employment tribunal, 86 per cent subsequently didn't as a result of the call. This helped avoid an estimated 16,000 employment tribunal cases last year.

The issues of most concern among British workers across the surveys included discipline, dismissals and grievances, contracts and redundancies.

In addition, around half (52 per cent) of employers who responded said they had updated or improved existing policies as a result of their call to the helpline, and one third implemented new policies.

A quarter of calls to the helpline came from the public administration and health industrial sector, with 20 per cent from the retail sector and 19 per cent from finance and real estate.

Women are still more likely to call the helpline for advice themselves or on behalf of other people with twice as many calls from women than men.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair says:

"Our helpline is a key indicator of the temperature of the British workplace. We remain at the front line of dealing with the problems and concerns faced by employees and employers in the workplace. By nipping problems in the bud you can avoid problems later on."

In 2010 demand for the helpline hit a record high and Acas provided advice and guidance to more than one million employers and employees on workplace problems.

In 2009 the Acas helpline was expanded to accommodate a simplified system of dealing with workplace problems. This was introduced following changes to the Employment Act.

Notes for editors

About the survey

Research was carried out between February and December 2009. The research was carried out by independent research organisation TNS-BMRB, on behalf of Acas.

About Acas

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.

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