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Early Acas involvement in workplace disputes adds around £19m to GB economy

Sunday 06 April 2014

People thinking of making an employment tribunal claim have to contact Acas first from today.

A new independent analysis published today has found that Acas' free early dispute resolution service, Pre Claim Conciliation (PCC), has benefited the GB economy by around £19 million.

The PCC service has dealt with around 20,000 cases a year since it began in 2009 and over three quarters of these do not go on to be submitted to an Employment Tribunal. This saves employers and employees the stress, cost and anxiety associated with the tribunal process.

From today Pre Claim Conciliation becomes Early Conciliation and anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim will need to notify Acas first. Acas will then try and resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action through this new free service that builds on the success of PCC.

Acas Chair, Sir Brendan Barber, said:

"This study demonstrates the economic benefits of dealing with workplace disputes at the earliest opportunity. Early Conciliation will give us the chance to help even more people resolve their disputes early as well as save taxpayers some of the cost of running the tribunal system.

"We know from previous independent research that PCC saves employers on average £3,200 in management time and legal costs compared to dealing with an employment tribunal case.

"The public have also told us how much they value the skills and experience of our conciliation staff who are primed and ready to deliver Early Conciliation from 6 April."

The analysis found that for every pound spent on PCC, at least five pounds was returned to the economy, which translated to a benefit of nearly £19 million for the first complete year that PCC had been running since its launch in 2009.

Employment Relations Minister, Jenny Willott, said:

"Early Conciliation is good news for employees and employers. It will help them resolve their workplace disputes, avoiding the stress, time delays and excessive costs all too often associated with tribunals.

"Under our new free scheme anyone considering lodging a claim with an employment tribunal will now contact Acas before they submit their claim. If both parties agree, Acas will attempt to resolve the dispute for free to see if a tribunal can be avoided."

An evaluation of PCC and Acas' individual conciliation service released last year showed that:

  • nearly nine out of ten employers who used PCC said that they would use it again
  • two thirds of employees would advise a friend or relative to use PCC if they were involved in a similar dispute
  • eight out of ten users said that Acas was important in helping to resolve their dispute
  • service users reported that PCC was cheaper, easier or more convenient, less traumatic or stressful and resolved their issue more quickly than submitting an employment tribunal claim
  • eight out of ten respondents said that their conciliator did not take sides and was even handed
  • eight out of ten respondents said that their conciliator listened to what they had to say
  • a fifth of employers reported that Acas had provided them with information or advice that they thought would help them to avoid a similar claim in the future. The same proportion also said that they had made a change to their policies or procedures as a consequence of the guidance received from the Acas conciliator.

If Early Conciliation doesn't resolve the dispute then the claimant will still be able to lodge a tribunal claim.

For more information see Early Conciliation.

Notes to editors

  1. The independent analysis 'Measuring the Value and Impacts of Acas' has been published today and can be found at Research papers. It found that based on service volumes from the 2010/11 financial year and the most recent survey data available, for every pound invested in Acas' Pre Claim Conciliation service, at least five pounds is contributed to the economy, which translates to a net benefit of £18.6m. At least £12 is contributed to the economy for every £1 invested in Acas, which translates to a total net benefit of £621m. For an embargoed copy of the report, please contact the Acas press office.
  2. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced that Acas would provide a new Early Conciliation service from April 2014 as part of the Resolving Workplace Disputes consultation in November 2011. The government took measures through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to provide for this.
  3. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. We aim to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. We help with employment relations by supplying up-to-date information, independent advice and high quality training, and working with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
  4. 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. Research commissioned by Acas (pdf icon Acas Helpline Evaluation 2011 - summary report [783kb]), found over nine out of ten employers (96 per cent) who call the Acas helpline would recommend it to a colleague.
  5. The independent report pdf icon Evaluation of Acas' Pre-Claim Conciliation Service 2012 [526kb] was carried out by TNS BMRB between 21 November 2012 and 8 February 2013. A total of 476 people took part in the survey.
  6. The independent report pdf icon Acas Individual Conciliation Survey 2012 [1Mb] 'Acas Individual Conciliation Survey 2012' was carried out by TNS BMRB with Individual Conciliation cases cleared between July and October 2012. 2625 people took part in the survey.
  7. An infographic, flowchart and youtube video of Acas Conciliator Andrew Cowler explaining how Early Conciliation will work is available at Early Conciliation.
  8. Raw unpackaged film footage that demonstrates a scenario of how EC will work in practice is available for broadcasters to use and develop for their own packages. This also includes a separate Q&A from Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber on Early Conciliation that can be clipped for sound bites. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact Shumon Rahman/Clare Carter on 0207 210 3688. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 020 7210 3600.