More people than ever before are ringing the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) through their Public Enquiry Points (up 40 per cent to 715,000), working with ACAS to resolve complaints to Employment Tribunals (up 32 per cent), and attending ACAS seminars and workshops (over 550 events in 99/00).
The report highlights the biggest ever shift towards individual rights issues that ACAS has witnessed since its creation 25 years ago. The Working Time Regulations – particularly the entitlement to paid holidays – and National Minimum Wage are two issues that had a significant impact on employee-employer relationships, leading to 7,000 complaints to Employment Tribunals during 1999/2000.
Rita Donaghy, the new Chair of ACAS, said: “These latest figures show that we have an increasingly important role to play. Our involvement brings real results; we resolved 76 per cent of cases before they reached the more costly and time consuming tribunal system. This new look annual report, with its at a glance ‘key facts’ on each area of our work, reflects a modern organisation confident in its ability to face the future.”
ACAS also conciliated in 1,247 disputes involving employers, unions and employee representatives, a 15 per cent rise over figures from recent years. Ninety-two per cent of the total disputes were resolved, or significant progress was made, thanks to ACAS’s involvement. Trade union recognition cases have also increased sharply over the period reported, with indications that almost half are now being settled voluntarily.
Rita Donaghy also drew attention to ACAS’s advisory services: “the employment landscape has changed dramatically over the past 25 years and these days the name ‘ACAS’ is often used as a byword for thinking ahead rather than patching up and making do. In the end it makes sense to follow good practice, both financially and in terms of employee well being.”