ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service)

  • ACAS
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

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In this guide, we'll discuss what ACAS is, how they help employers, the issues they deal with and how their services work.

As a business owner, sometimes there will be a conflict between yourself and an employee. This could be between pay or hours, but how you go about resolving the issue can be confusing.

Failure to resolve any conflicts as quickly as possible can go a long way in a claim being made against you, which could lead to an employment tribunal.

In this guide, we'll discuss what ACAS is, how they help employers, the issues they deal with and how their services work.

What is ACAS?

ACAS is an independent and impartial organisation whose aims are to improve the working life of both employers, employees and to improve organisations. They've been advising the employment world for over 30 years and became a household name in the 1980s.

ACAS is an executive public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, which is governed by an independent council.

They provide free information, impartial advice and guidance on the rules and best practices to employers, employees, and representatives of a trade union.

In order to understand how ACAS can help your business, it's important you understand how they work.

What does ACAS stand for?

ACAS stands for Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, which breaks down the three separate services which are used to help businesses reach suitable resolutions.

Before you fully understand how ACAS can work for your business, you need to break conciliation and arbitration service into two separate entities and learn how they can help you and your employees.

What issues does ACAS help with?

As an employer, it's important you understand the sort of problems ACAS can assist you with should they occur in your workplace. Such as:

How does ACAS help with employment relations?

ACAS works to resolve disputes, find solutions, improve performance and aims to promote good practice in all workplaces. They don't side with a particular party during employment conflicts.

Helping businesses with their employment relations means you can solve problems and improve performance moving forward.

ACAS works to avoid large-scale industrial disputes by trying to prevent problems before they arise and find suitable resolutions before they become bigger disputes.

How does ACAS help enforce employment law?

ACAS (advisory conciliation and arbitration service) helps to enforce employment law by working with businesses of all sizes to improve the working life for both employers and workers.

They provide free and impartial guidance on the following:

Their main strategy is to improve organisations and avoid employment tribunals.

What is conciliation?

Conciliation is assistance provided by ACAS to employees who are looking to take a complaint against their employer to an employment tribunal.

The early stages of ACAS conciliation are used to help avoid a tribunal hearing taking place.

What's the purpose of ACAS early conciliation?

To put it simply, the main purpose of early conciliation is to avoid both sides having to go to an employment tribunal. It's used to help with individual complaints rather than on a group basis.

ACAS speaks with both parties, arranges a mediator and hopefully reaches a settlement agreement without having to stand up in front of an employment tribunal.

In essence, conciliation is the last opportunity to solve the dispute before the employee's full application is made to be heard by a tribunal.

How does ACAS conciliation work?

To begin the conciliation process, your employee will need to complete an Early Conciliation Notification Form - which can be found on ACAS website.

The usual time period for conciliation to take place is a month, but it can be increased to another 14 days if required.

If the conciliation fails, ACAS will close the process and give the employee an early conciliation certificate. The certificate includes a number which must be put on the form they must fill in when making their tribunal claim.

What is arbitration?

Arbitration is when a third party is brought into a dispute to find a resolution. ACAS works with employers and employees to provide two types of arbitration. Such as:

  • Collective arbitration: This is for a case between the employer and a group of employees.
  • Individual arbitration: This is for a case regarding flexible working or unfair dismissal between the employer and employee.

As an employer, it's important you understand how the arbitration service works in case it's ever required in your company.

How does the arbitration service work?

ACAS' arbitration service is in place to help create and maintain better employment relations between employer and employee.

An arbitrator is appointed by ACAS, and both sides must agree to accept their decision before the process starts. The arbitrator will arrange the hearing, which will deal with all aspects of the event.

The process of the hearing is as follows:

  • Confirm the dispute they're making a decision on.
  • Allow both sides to explain their case and present any evidence.
  • Discuss the case and ask any questions they seem fit. 
  • Allow both sides to ask questions of the other party based on the evidence presented.

The result of the hearing will be sent within 21 days for collective disputes and 14 days for individual disputes.

What is the ACAS code of practice?

The ACAS code of practice is the minimum set of standards that are expected in the workplace by employers and employees. The code is used by employment tribunals when deciding on the outcome of a case.

The following are included in the code:

  • Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures.
  • Code of Practice on disclosure of information of trade unions for the collective bargaining process
  • Code of Practice on time off for trade union duties and activities. 
  • Code of Practice on settlement agreements.
  • Code of Practice on handling a reasonable manner request to work flexibly.

In essence, the code should be used by employers in order to run a successful organisation and avoid an independent tribunal.

Get expert advice on Acas with Peninsula

Workplace conflicts are sometimes unavoidable - so if this happens in your workplace, it's important you understand where you can receive free guidance from.

ACAS (Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service) are there to help employers and employees should a conflict need resolving before the need for an employment tribunal. Their Code of Practice is in place to ensure standards are met.

Peninsula offers expert advice on Acas. Our teams provide 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. We take care of everything when you work with our HR experts.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

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