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Acas Dispute Resolution

Small disagreements in the workplace can easily turn into bigger problems if not dealt with correctly. Some may become employment tribunal claims; others may expand into industrial disputes between groups of employees and their employer.

Dealing with issues, however difficult they may be, early and informally provides the best chance of resolution. We can help line managers to be sufficiently confident and capable to say the right words, at the right time and in the right place to nip problems in the bud.

But if 'a quick word' doesn't do the trick, formal policies and procedures will be needed. Acas provides information, advice, guidance and training; as well as access to free template policies and procedures which will help avoid further difficulties. See our Advice A-Z for more information.

When disputes escalate they can be time-consuming and expensive to deal with. Acas provides independent, impartial and confidential ways of helping both parties to resolve disputes and build effective productive working relationships. We can help individuals and/or groups of workers and their employers to talk, and can help companies to diagnose and work through issues that might lead to disputes.

What sort of issues cause workplace disputes?

Watch our Helpline Adviser Ruth Chapman explain what kind of issues cause workplace disputes.

Individual disputes

Acas can help in cases that will otherwise become employment tribunal cases. People intending to make a tribunal claim must notify Acas first so that we can offer Early Conciliation. Acas conciliation continues to be available until the employment tribunal hearing. Reaching a settlement through conciliation is quicker, cheaper and less stressful for all concerned than a tribunal hearing.

Find out more: Acas' services for Individual disputes

Collective disputes

Acas can help resolve disputes between employee representative groups (usually trade unions) and employers. It is always best to involve Acas at the earliest stage, before parties become entrenched in their views. Acas is an independent and impartial third party, whose role is not to direct either party on what to do; but to help them develop options and solutions to resolve the dispute.

Find out more: Acas' services for Collective disputes

Acas can only help resolve individual and collective disputes when both parties agree to take part. Acas does not take sides. The effectiveness of Acas conciliation is based on our impartiality and confidentiality. Acas discusses the issues with both parties in order to help them reach a better understanding of each other's positions and underlying interests. The parties are then able to use Acas to find and agree the solution themselves.