More businesses using Acas for workplace advice

23 Jan, 2013

The number of businesses using workplace relations experts, Acas, for advice on employment law and good practice has risen according to a survey of British workplaces.

The 2011 Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERs), published today, found more businesses with five or more employees wanting expert advice with 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.  

Ed Sweeney (pictured), Acas Chair said: “Acas welcomes the First Findings from the 2011 WERS. This latest survey gives an important insight into Britain’s workplaces during a difficult economic period. We believe workplaces will play a vital role in the economic recovery, and an important part of that process will be how managers handle the challenges they face. At the centre of this is securing a positive employment relationship.

“We know Acas proved to be key for accessing expert advice on redundancy issues at the height of the recession with many businesses looking at alternative ways of working to minimise the impact. It’s encouraging to know more managers are using Acas’ advice service to get workplace relations right.

“The report also shows that when individuals get into dispute at work a very low number of employers take advantage of using mediation to sort out problems before they escalate. Mediation helps resolve disputes quickly and effectively, minimising stress and cost as well as preserving workplace relationships. I would urge businesses to consider mediation as a method for early resolution of disputes.

“An important focus for Acas over the course of the next year will be preparing to introduce our early conciliation service. This will come in from 2014 when 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”. 

Other highlights from the WERs report are:

  • 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%).
  • Grievances raised by an employee are down from 38% to 30%.
  • Three-quarters of managers think it is up to employees to balance their work and family responsibilities – up from 66% to 76%.
  • More employees were committed to the organisation they work for – three-quarters of employees reported feeling loyal to their organisation, up from 70%.
  • Low use of mediation to resolve individual disputes – 7% of workplaces reported its use.

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