Bumper year for Acas

The 2009/2010 report for Acas has been released. It reveals the service:

  • dealt with over 900 collective actions (usually industrial action or collective redundancies);
  • provided conciliation in over 85,000 employment tribunal actions – its highest ever number, and 13% more than in 2008/2009;
  • received over 1 million calls to its helpline;
  • dealt with over 10,000 “pre-claim” conciliations – this is where the Acas is asked by the parties to conciliate a claim before a tribunal action has been commenced.

In relation to the last figure, Acas claim that in over 70% of these cases tribunal proceedings were prevented. They quote a study which shows that getting to the stage where an ET3 is filed can already have cost a business £2,000, so the savings are substantial.

There seems to be no indication yet as to whether Acas will be facing significant cuts under the coalition’s spending plans, but it is well-placed to avoid these given it is an organisation that saves other people money. Acas chair Ed Sweeny is quoted as saying:

“We continue to deal first hand with the effects of recession and the immense strain it places on workplace relations. We are seeing signs of improvement with employers and unions taking a more pragmatic approach by working together, looking at ways to try and save jobs and avoid redundancy. This is in stark contrast to previous recessions.

Overall Acas provides excellent value – every pound of taxpayers’ money invested in it creates a return of up to £16.”

Indeed, there can be little doubt that this recession has been marked by that more “flexible” approach to reducing staff costs than the large-scale redundancy exercises of the past. Social and economic changes over the last two decades are the main contributors, but Acas has certainly had an important role to play in disseminating the alternatives to employers.

Read the Acas 2009/2010 annual report here: