Acas have released their annual report, and many of the statistics make for interesting reading.
It shows that the number 0f claims referred to them by the Employment Tribunals fell overall from 151,249 in 2007/2008 to 138,535 in 2008/2009 (that figure refers to claims to particular jurisdictions, rather than the number of ET1s). Six thousand less of these cases included the Equal Pay jurisdiction than last year, but the notes immediately quash any enthusiasm about that figure however:
Very few equal pay/sex discrimination cases brought against NHS employers are included in these figures because they have not been passed to Acas for conciliation by the Tribunals unless the parties have requested conciliation or there appears to be a reasonable prospect of success in conciliation. In addition, Acas received 49,675 cases for conciliation where no case had yet been submitted to an Employment Tribunal, but where one was likely to be if the matter was not resolved. The vast majority of these cases (47,290) related to potential claims against local authorities in regard to equal pay.
Notwithstanding that, Equal Pay claims still constitute a third of the primary claims behind issued proceedings in the tribunal. In 2007/2008 28,767 claims were referred containing a claim under working time regulations, but the following year this fell to a mere 17,844. Claims of unfair dismissal however rose from 43,241 to 55,000, apparently an exact figure. If anyone can provide some interpretation or reasoning behind those changes I’d be interested to hear it.
Another statistic is that Acas answered their national helpline 726,306 times throughout the year, and each one of those calls resulting in an answered query cost it Â£12.12. Of course, the recession didn’t really start to claim a significant number of jobs until the beginning of 2009, so one shudders to think at the volume 2009/2010 will bring if the economic downturn persists in causing redundancies throughout the year.
Acas’s Pre-Claim Conciliation service also launched in April 2009, where free conciliation is provided between employer and employee before proceedings are issued. It seems to have been a success, over half of conciliations being successful, and each of those saving everyone (both parties and the taxpayer) a total of around Â£1,000.
I’d be interested to hear your views on Acas at present, it’s been a couple of years since (as a solicitor) I was routinely on the phone to conciliators over claims, as a barrister I tend to pick up cases before conciliation starts or after it’s failed. I remember finding the service excellent mostly, but is it being stretched by volume and standards slipping? Let me know.