Workplace expert, Acas, has published its 2019 to 2020 annual report. The reporting period includes the start of the coronavirus pandemic until the end of March this year, which saw a record increase in demand for Acas services.
Acas Chair, Sir Brendan Barber, said:
"Our new coronavirus web advice has seen 3.6 million visitors and the Acas helpline experienced a three-fold increase in calls. The professionalism of our staff has helped us meet the new demands of COVID-19 whilst adapting to remote working ourselves.
"It is clear that our services have been invaluable to staff and businesses during a very difficult period and we are already planning ahead to anticipate customer needs in a post-coronavirus world."
Key facts and figures from this year's annual report include:
- There were 1,172,091 contacts through Acas's helpline and advisory services such as the telephone helpline, Helpline Online, web chat and Facebook messages. During the height of the coronavirus crisis, the helpline was receiving 3 times as many calls as normal.
- Acas trained over 65,000 people on a range of workplace topics including the latest changes in employment law. Acas extended its webinar programme during the pandemic.
- Customers accessed Acas's websites 15 million times, which included a record 3.6 million visits to its coronavirus advice up to the end of March.
- Acas continued to conciliate to prevent or resolve disputes between groups of workers and their employers with 566 national and regional disputes in a wide range of sectors in 2019 to 2020. Pay related matters were the top cause of disputes.
- Acas's individual dispute resolution service has continued to see an increase in demand. Overall, the notifications received increased by 5% compared to the same period the previous year. The service dealt with around 5,000 more cases that involved a tribunal claim with unfair dismissals being the top cause, making up 42% of these cases.
- Acas is looking at the future needs of the workplace in order to respond quickly and effectively to customer needs. This will include looking at safe working practices; new ways of working; and business survival, recovery and productivity.