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Resolving Disputes at Work The Role of Acas in UK Employment Relations Peter Monaghan Senior Adviser Acas Manchester.

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Presentation on theme: "Resolving Disputes at Work The Role of Acas in UK Employment Relations Peter Monaghan Senior Adviser Acas Manchester."— Presentation transcript:

1 Resolving Disputes at Work The Role of Acas in UK Employment Relations Peter Monaghan Senior Adviser Acas Manchester

2 Acas Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) Established in 1974 State Funded Employees are Civil Servants Independent of Government Policy and Strategy directed by a Council of representatives of Employers, Trades Unions and independent experts Independence and Impartiality at the heart of our activities Employ around 800 people, national and regional offices.

3 Acas – General Aims / Mission Acas aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. We help with employment relations by supplying up-to-date information, independent advice and high quality training, and working with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance.

4 Acas - Dispute Resolution Services Collective Conciliation Assisting parties in a Mediation role to resolve collective bargaining disputes. Largely Employer vs Trades Union at the workplace level. Acas reputation in helping parties resolve disputes involving actual or threats of strike action. Around 1000 of such cases per year. Participation voluntary.

5 Acas - Dispute Resolution Services Individual Conciliation Statutory duty to mediate in all claims made before the Employment Tribunals system eg Unfair Dismissal. Largely disputes of “right” within a legal framework. Participation voluntary, Acas contact compulsory. Approximately 40% of cases “settled” via Acas prior to a hearing taking place. Approximately a further 35% of cases “withdrawn” after Acas contact prior to a hearing taking place.

6 Dispute Resolution in the UK Influences? TU membership levels in gradual decline Increase in individualism and individual bargaining? Gradual increase in legislation applying to individual rights at work. Influence of European legislation, particularly on Equality. High levels of workplace “Change”. Change = Pressure = Conflict? (although often low level) A more litigious society? An increased willingness to enforce actual or perceived rights through the law?

7 Dispute Resolution in the UK The Problem Year on year increase in Employment Tribunal claims. 236,100 in 2009/10 130,000 in 2000/01 Case receipts up 14% on last year. Anecdotal evidence of increases in individual workplace grievances. Costly in terms of cost administering scheme but more importantly cost to business. Does little to maintain employment relationships.

8 New Acas ADR Services The solution? Expanded Helpline service encouraging a focus on resolving disputes in the workplace. New service of Pre Claim Conciliation. New Acas Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievance Handling with a Dispute Resolution focus. Development of internal workplace mediators. Increasing the capacity of managers and representatives to resolve disputes through dialogue and discussion.

9 Pre Claim Conciliation Offered when established that the employee is eligible to make a claim to an employment tribunal ie “Pre Claim”. When the Parties have already made reasonable attempts address the matter ie used internal procedures. When the employee is likely to make a claim if our assistance is not provided. Voluntary participation On target for 20,000 cases in 2010/11

10 Mediation Developed an accredited Mediation qualification the “certificate in internal workplace mediation”. Facilitative or Interests based bargaining model. Provide Mediation in disputes at an early stage, usually disputes of relationships or behaviour. Assist organisations to develop workplace mediation schemes. Train managers and representatives in Mediation “skills” for everyday use. Shift emphasis away from the law and rights enforcement to dialogue and communication.

11 Mediation No records or paperwork No notes No one else needs to know about it Only the parties and the mediator involved No witnesses No investigation

12 Mediation No representation Can be arranged quickly Less time consuming ( average a day and a half) Cost effective Less stressful Maintains the employment relationship

13 When is Mediation not appropriate? As a method of dealing with overt and actual acts of Discrimination As a method of dealing with overt and actual acts of violence or abuse Allegations of criminality When one or both of the parties may not mentally capable of pursuing the process When one or both of the parties are not committed to the process When one or both of the parties wish to enforce a “right”?

14 When is Mediation particularly appropriate? When the conflict has caused “absence” Behaviour labelling eg Bullying, Harassment, Discrimination, Disrespect. Complaints about management style Dealing with emotional impact, feelings, needs Peer to peer conflicts Individual to first line manager conflicts More about relationships and behaviour rather than “rights” ?

15 Dispute Resolution Where next? Real interest in ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) as an alternative to the law, not just workplace related. Compulsory Mediation before a claim to law can be made? (New Zealand model). Is there a positive cultural impact of Mediation on organisations and it’s employees? More legislative changes?

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