Increase In ACAS Dispute Resolution Cases ‘Driven By Awareness’

Expert Comments On New PCC Research

20.07.2012

Greater awareness of the ACAS dispute resolution service is likely to be behind the increase seen in demand over the last 12 months, according to an employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell.

A new report related to the performance of the Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC) service found that demand rose by 24 per cent – 6,000 cases – in the period 2011-12. Unfair dismissal was found to be the most common issue cited in cases.

Originally launched in 2009, the PCC is expected to be central to the Government’s plans to reduce employment tribunals by ensuring that anyone looking to make a claim is sent through the service as standard. Such plans are expected to be introduced from 2014.

Ami Naru, an employment law specialist at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, said there are strong signs that the increase in cases has come about as a result of greater awareness of the service – particularly among those wanting to resolve their disputes without heading into the tribunal process.

She outlined: “The ACAS service can also be specifically helpful when used as an alternative to compromise agreements, especially when there are a number of employees that are affected by a single issue in the workplace assuming that ACAS have sufficient resource to be able to deal with the increased demand for its service.

“Through this service, a single ACAS officer can provide advice and support to employers and employees, usually within the workplace and in a manner which prevents employees from having to go out and seek different legal representation.”

Ami added that the Government’s plans for any tribunal claim to go through ACAS are likely to have an impact on the mindset of many who choose to bring claims.

She explained: “It will focus minds at an early stage on whether there is scope to settle and should hopefully sift out claims and only those unsuitable for settlement at an early stage will then proceed through the tribunal process. This could in turn cut the number of claims which end up before the tribunal.”