Conciliation service helps to head off more tribunals

Conciliation service Acas helped to prevent more than 13,000 workplace disputes between individuals and their employers from reaching an employment tribunal, its latest annual report has shown.

The report for 2010-2011, issued on 28 July, revealed that Acas dealt with almost 18,000 such disputes – 80 per cent up on the previous year – through its pre-claim conciliation service, which aims to resolve workplace issues before they escalate into tribunal claims.

The proportion of cases where no claim was then made to an employment tribunal rose from 70 per cent to 74 per cent, preventing 13,158 cases going any further.

Acas said it had seen a significant increase in demand for its help in resolving large-scale disputes in the past year. It dealt with 1,054 collective disputes over the period, up 15 per cent from 2009/10.

Pay continued to be the top issue followed by redundancy. Ninety-one per cent of cases, including high profile disputes such as British Airports Authority (BAA), the BBC and London Underground, were either resolved or the parties were moved towards a resolution.

The number of claims Acas received for conciliation via employment tribunals fell to just under 75,000 cases, a drop of 15 per cent. Unfair dismissal continued to be the most common reason for individual conciliation cases.

Ed Sweeney, Acas chair, said: "There have been a number of high profile collective disputes and it’s encouraging to see employers and trade unions willing to get round the negotiating table to reach agreement.

"The success of our pre-claim conciliation service was highlighted by the government’s proposal to expand it in their Resolving workplace disputes consultation. We know that tackling issues in the workplace as early as possible can save time, money and stress for all involved.” The annual report also revealed that:

  • the Acas helpline answered almost one million calls
  • the Acas website attracted more than four million visits, 400,000 more than in 2009/10. Guidance on the Equality Act guidance was the most popular with visitors, attracting 270,000 page views
  • Acas trained more than 35,000 employers and employees in good employment practices, a rise of 16 per cent on the previous year.

LINK: Acas annual report