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More businesses using Acas

Posted by on in Employer Law

The number of businesses using Acas for advice on employment good practice has risen according to a survey of British workplaces.

The 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERs) found a 29% increase in managers using Acas since the 2004 survey.

Last year, the Acas helpline answered almost 925,000 calls on employment issues such as the Agency Workers Regulations and the Acas website saw a rise of around 10% in traffic with more than four and a half million visits.

The number of workplaces using grievance and disciplinary procedures that reflect the principles set out in the Acas Code has risen since 2004. For grievance procedures there was a 27% increase.

Other highlights from the WERs report include:

  • In relation to the economic climate, the survey revealed an increase in the number of strikes in the public sector.
  • Three quarters of workplaces changed some aspect of their staffing practices in response to the recession. The most common being a freeze or cut in wages (42%).
  • Low use of mediation to resolve individual disputes - 7% of workplaces reported its use.

The Chief Executive of Acas has predicted that workplace tension over pay will continue to be one of the challenges facing employers in 2013. He has also highlighted the need for employers to motivate and engage their workforces.

"Motivating and engaging staff by other ways rather than pay will therefore be a challenge and may require employers to be more inventive,” said John Taylor. “One way of engaging with staff may be to offer more flexible working arrangements. The Government is proposing to extend the right to request flexible working to everyone not just parents and carers. Acas will be producing a new code of practice and consulting on this in the new year."

Speaking of plans for the future, John Taylor said:

"Acas main focus over the course of the next year will be preparing to introduce our early conciliation service which will come in from April 2014. In future anyone thinking of making a tribunal claim will need to contact Acas first to try and resolve the dispute before it becomes a tribunal claim.

"In 2012 our voluntary Pre Claim Conciliation (PCC) service helped resolve over 21,000 workplace disputes between employers and employees avoiding the need to go to a tribunal. The introduction of Early Conciliation in 2014 will allow us to help even more people resolve their disputes early. Our current PCC service is free to use for both employers and employees - and Early Conciliation will be too. At Acas our advice is always that it is better to resolve disputes at the earliest possible stage, ideally in the workplace itself."

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