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What's Acas been up to in 2015?

Acas is best known for its work helping employers and unions come to agreements when disputes threaten.

But Acas does much else besides, with one of its key objectives being to improve employment relations in every respect, both within and between workplaces, to enable organisations to succeed and the economy to grow.

As we take a look back at 2015, it's clear how Acas has worked tirelessly to enhance workplace relationships, providing expert and impartial advice on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law

On the front line

This year more callers to the Acas Helpline than before said they were 'extremely satisfied' with the service they received, and 96 per cent said they would recommend the service to a friend or colleague.

And in the first year of Acas Early Conciliation, after dealing with more than 83,000 cases (between April 2014 and March 2015), eight out of ten people who took part said they were satisfied with the service they received from Acas.

The economic benefits of using Acas were clear too. Compensation arising from disputes settled by Acas, for instance, was found to be far more likely to be paid without enforcement than awards made at an employment tribunal.
 

Advice and guidance

At the beginning of 2015, Acas made a small amendment to its Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures following a judgment made by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. It was to clarify the rules on making requests to be accompanied at grievance or disciplinary hearings.

The Code is statutory, but Acas has also released plenty of other non-statutory guides and leaflets over the year.

For employers, there has been new advice on recruiting staff and inducting staff, three new guides to help employers get to grips with discrimination and diversity, and advice on mental health in the workplace.

Other new guides deal with tackling Pregnancy and maternity discrimination, disability discrimination, leave rights for adoption and antenatal appointments, bullying and ill-treatment in the workplace, and Conducting workplace investigations.

The nuts-and-bolts issues of everyday employment were revisited too, such as a new step-by-step guide for small firms on handling staff pay, advice on what to do during hot weather, handling summer holiday requests, and how not to fall foul of special protections afforded to young workers.

Much of the advice is useful for both employers and workers - such as a large suite of practical tools, on the subject of Shared Parental Leave, which came into force this year.

Other advice was released specifically for the latter group, including top tips for students looking for work, and updated advice for working parents on Flexible working and work-life balance.

These publications have been further complemented by a range of other Tools and Resources, free letter templates and forms, and online help that makes Acas one of the first ports of call for advice and support for employment relations issues for employers and workers alike.

 

Research, comment and analysis

Acas studies and research are also blazing a trail, helping leaders, thinkers and policy makers plan for better workplaces.

Earlier in the year, Acas teamed up with CIPD and HRZone in Workplace trends of 2015, which explored the most important challenges facing UK workplaces and provide 'the benchmark for good working lives and effective workplaces over the next year'.

One of the trends was the thorny problem of the UK's low productivity - which received plenty of attention from Acas elsewhere too, with a policy discussion paper, a comment paper and Acas Chair Sir Brendan Barber urging organisations and think tanks not to forget the workplace management and employment relations when seeking solutions.

Atypical contracts were also singled out in Workplace trends, and the impact of the Agency Worker Regulations on employers, employees and agency workers themselves, in a dedicated Acas paper.

Another Acas study on bullying suggested that low-level incivility and rudeness could enable the creation of a workplace culture that could tacitly accept or even encourage bullying.

In short, it's been another busy and successful year for Acas.

 

Acas publications and services

Acas publications, policy papers, research, and comment papers are available for free download from the Acas Tools and Resources area. Detailed Acas advice on any aspect of employment relations is available from the Advice and Guidance area.

Acas experts can visit your organisation and give you bespoke support to help you overcome the challenges you and your employees face. Contact the customer services team on 0300 123 1150 for more information about Acas Business solutions.

Practical Acas training on New employment law and updates will ensure you're on top of any legislative changes. And there are plenty of other courses to choose from too, including Conflict management, Discrimination, People management, Performance management, Employing People, and Work/life balance.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.


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