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Demand for early intervention in workplace disputes continues to rise

Monday 16 July 2012

More employers and employees are accessing help earlier to avoid employment tribunals according to figures released today by workplace experts Acas.

The latest annual report figures highlight that demand for Acas' early dispute resolution service, Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC), rose by a third (34%) in 2011/12 meaning that Acas dealt with 23,777 cases, 6000 more cases than the previous year. This has resulted in thousands of people avoiding the need to go to an employment tribunal.

Pre-Claim Conciliation was launched in April 2009 and aims to resolve workplace problems before they result in a costly and stressful employment tribunal claim.

Acas is successfully settling more claims year on year through PCC. This year's figures highlight that the number of cases that don't go on to become an employment tribunal claim increased to 78 per cent from 74 per cent last year. Unfair Dismissal is the most common problem handled through PCC, followed by claims about wages, breach of contract, holiday and disability discrimination.

The success of PCC has led to the Government proposing that anyone intending to make an employment tribunal claim should come to Acas first. The new service, called early conciliation, will start from 2014.

Additionally, the number of claims Acas received for conciliation after an employment tribunal claim had been lodged dropped by 3 per cent to 72,075. Unfair dismissal continues to be the most common reason for individual conciliation cases.

Acas helped settle a number of high-profile national and regional collective disputes in 2011/12. Overall, Acas collective conciliation service was requested in nearly 1,000 disputes, including those at Vivergo, Cammell Laird, JobCentre Plus, London Underground and, at the end of the year, the dispute between Unite and the main petrol distributors.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair said:

"It's very good to see that more people are resolving disputes earlier by using our pre-claim conciliation service. Our new early conciliation service will mean that disputes will be referred to Acas before a tribunal claim can be lodged and I hope it will build on the success of PCC when it's introduced in 2014 . Acas helps reduce the cost, stress and time involved in disputes at work."

"Our latest annual report proves that where individuals, businesses, unions or their representatives use Acas conciliation, positive results are achieved in the majority of cases."

As employers and employees continue to look for expert advice on employment legislation and good practice in the workplace, this year's annual report revealed that:

  • The Acas website received more than four and a half million visits - 400,000 more than the previous year a rise of 9.5% on last year.
  • The Acas helpline answered almost 925,000 calls on employment issues such as the Agency Workers Regulations. The top three issues were: Discipline, dismissal and grievances; redundancies, lay offs and business transfers; and contracts.
  • We trained nearly 28,000 delegates on a range of workplace relations topics including latest changes to employment law. Our top topics were discipline and grievance, equality and diversity and managing people.
  • Acas reached more users via social media with more than 1,700 followers on Twitter compared to 600 last year and 5,000 LinkedIn members compared to 1,000, last year.

The Acas 2011/12 annual report is available to download from the Annual reports and plans page of the website.

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.

For media enquiries or to arrange an interview please contact Kirsty FItzjohn on 01284 774695. Clare Carter, Press and PR Manager on 0207 210 2688, or Lou Owen, Media and Marketing Officer on 020 7210 3920