New figures released yesterday by Acas, the employment relations service, have revealed that the number of businesses and employees trying to avoid employment tribunal claims continues to rise in recent months.
Monthly calls to the Acas helpline which have resulted in being referred to the early conciliation service – pre-claim conciliation (PCC) have almost doubled since September 2009. The free service aims to settle workplace issues which could escalate to an expensive tribunal.
By the end of February 2010, 8,304 PCC referrals had been made from the Acas helpline since the service was launched to accompany changes to the Employment Act in April last year. Acas estimates that over 5,000 tribunal claims have been avoided already.
Rising demand for the service has resulted in a steady increase in referrals culminating in over 2,700 in the last quarter of 2009. The first quarter of 2010 is on track to exceed this figure by at least 20%. At the moment around 300 referrals are being received every week on average, and Acas expects this number to rise to about 400 during 2010.
Commenting on the figures, Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair said:
“This data indicates that workers and employers are increasingly taking steps to avoid employment tribunals. The current economic climate has created difficult workplace challenges for managers, HR professionals and employees. The earlier issues can be sorted out, the more likely people will remain in productive employment in the workplace.
“The service is quick. Over half of all resolved cases are completed in around three weeks instead of the six to nine months that most tribunal claims take We have a responsibility to support the economic recovery by resolving workplace disputes early on and in doing so, avoiding costly, stressful and time consuming employment tribunals.”