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UK Employment Minister visits workplace experts in Glasgow

Thursday 06 June 2013

Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson, is today visiting Acas Glasgow to see first hand how the work of the employment relations service is helping to avoid the cost and stress of thousands of employment tribunals every year.

The Minister will speak to helpline advisers in the Glasgow office to hear how the phone line offers practical advice and guidance to thousands of employers, employees and their representatives every year. Last year the Glasgow helpline handled over 200,000 calls on workplace concerns from discipline, dismissal and grievance, to redundancies, layoffs and contracts.

From 2014, anyone thinking about taking a claim to an employment tribunal will have to notify Acas of their intention first. Acas will then offer Early Conciliation and if the parties agree, it will have up to a month to find a resolution to the problem.

The new service, Early Conciliation, is being introduced following the success of a similar free service that Acas launched in 2009 called Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC). Last year the Glasgow helpline referred over 5,000 employers and employees to Pre Claim Conciliation. And nationally that year Acas received over 22,000 requests for PCC. Three quarters of all appropriate requests don't go onto become an employment tribunal claim.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair, said:

"We're delighted to welcome the Employment Relations Minister to our Glasgow office to hear first hand how our expert advisers deal with the often challenging and complex workplace issues we deal with on a daily basis.

"Independent research carried out in 2011 found that calls to our helpline prevent around 14,000 employment tribunal claims a year and employers in particular are more likely to make changes as a result of the call they make.

"Our new early conciliation service will mean that disputes will be referred to us before an employment tribunal claim is even made. Early conciliation will be quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing and it's free to use.

"Prevention is always better than cure and I would encourage anyone that needs advice to come to us as early as possible."

"Independent research into our current pre claim conciliation service has found that when staff, management time and legal costs are factored in, employers save on average £2,700 compared to resolving a dispute once an employment tribunal claim has been made."

Jo Swinson, Employment Relations Minister, said:

"Creating the right conditions in the workplace helps build good relationships between employers and employees. This is the first step in reducing disputes at work which benefits everyone. It is also crucial in helping business get on and grow and in making sure the outcomes are in everyone's best interests.

"The work that Acas does in providing important advice and guidance in resolving a wide range of disputes should be highly commended.  I am delighted to have the opportunity to see this work first hand.

"I am also looking forward to meeting Acas helpline advisers and listening to their views to get a real sense of the range of issues that they deal with on a day to day basis."

Notes for editors

  1. The Acas Helpline is a national service that is available to anyone who has questions about workplace issues or employment rights. This can help both employers and employees avoid the cost, stress and time of an employment tribunal. Last year (March 2012 to April 2013) the Acas helpline handled a total of 928,995 calls. Acas Glasgow handled 209,403 calls from all parts of Great Britain - not just Scotland. The Acas helpline - 0300 123 1100 - is available from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Advice is free and confidential so callers do not have to give their names.
  2. In 2012/13 Acas received 22,630 PCC cases nationally. 77% of appropriate matters referred for PCC in 2012 did not lead to an employment tribunal.
  3. 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.
  4. For media enquiries or to arrange an interview please contact Shumon Rahman/Clare Carter, Press and PR Manager on 0207 210 3688 or Lou Owen on 0207 210 3920. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 07825 691094.