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ACAS Report 2002

August 12 2002 - ACAS will have a vital role to play in spreading good practice and resolving disputes over the next few years, according to ACAS Chair Rita Donaghy.

Rita Donaghy said:

"This has been a year when employment relations have come back into the spotlight. There are some major legislative changes just round the corner - the Employment Act, Article 13 discrimination rights and the EC Directive on informing and consulting employees, to name a few. The challenge will be to help organisations take the changes on board smoothly and make the most of opportunities for improving their employment relations.

"But with all the talk of more industrial unrest and economic uncertainty, how can people afford to think about best practice? This is just when it is vital and ACAS is ideally placed to deliver the agenda. We offer a wide range of services from advice on employment rights and how best to put legislation into practice through to help with workplace problems and disputes. We work with hundreds of organisations every day, using our first-hand knowledge of what can go wrong to help people get it right. We firmly believe that good employment relations have a direct effect on productivity and competitiveness - the bottom line.

"Demand for our dispute resolution services may also increase although it is too early to identify any real upward trend here. No doubt the new legislation will have an impact on individual rights cases. On the collective dispute side we are seeing an increase in media profile rather than demand for conciliation. As always ACAS is ready to play its role if progress can be made through our services."

Some of the most significant details in this year's Annual Report include:

* There were 100,878 applications to tribunals (compared to 105,909 in 2000/01) covering 165,093 different complaints. Of these, 75% were settled or withdrawn and went no further than the ACAS stage (compared with 71% last year). Unfair dismissal remains the largest category of complaint.

* 1270 collective conciliation cases were completed, compared with 1226 in 2000/01.

* Acas helplines answered 755,449 calls around the country and Equality Direct a further 2686 on equality issues. 99% of callers in recent research said they would use the service again and 80% said the information provided helped them to decide on a course of action.

* ACAS delivered 1084 events - such as seminars for small businesses - compared with 649 in 2000/01. More than 11,000 delegates attended ACAS events with 95% reporting that they were satisfied.

* 385 requests for assistance over recognition were received. 64% of completed cases resulted in full or partial recognition of the trade union.

* ACAS is now a partner in several major EC-funded projects such as those building an industrial relations framework in Slovakia, Latvia and Slovenia.

The ACAS website is at http://www.acas.org.uk

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