Acas has welcomed the Government's proposal for potential employment tribunal claims to be referred for early conciliation, in its formal submission to the public consultation on resolving workforce disputes.
The Acas Council said that the plans, published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in January, would allow it to expand its pre-claim conciliation (PCC) service.
Acas chair Ed Sweeney said: "Acas pre-claim conciliation is a highly effective way of resolving disputes before they reach an employment tribunal and offers substantial savings for employers, employees and the taxpayer.
"It is quicker, cheaper, and less stressful, and if we can offer early conciliation in more cases we can multiply the benefits of this very successful service."
Acas launched PCC in April 2009 and independent research has shown that it saves time and expense for employers and employees alike. Employers could typically spend five days on an employment tribunal claim, seven and a half days if the claim went to a hearing, and five days if the claim was settled by Acas. This compares to one day for a typical PCC case. Similarly, the average cost to the employer for a PCC case is £475, compared to £5,690 for an employment tribunal claim.
Research by XpertHR in April 2010 suggested a slow uptake by employers of PCC.
In its proposals, the Government has suggested early conciliation for individual disputes but Acas believes that multiple claims should also be included.
"Excluding multiple claims from early conciliation would be a false economy. They are potentially the most costly of all cases for the parties and the taxpayer if they go the distance, whilst even registering the claims involved can place a high administrative burden on the tribunals," said Sweeney, adding that PCC had resolved 69% of multiple claimant cases in the past two years.
Full details of Acas's response to the Government's early conciliation proposal can be found on XpertHR's Tribunal Watch blog.