A pilot scheme to help small companies deal with employment law problems has
been launched by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).
Acas will offer free, simple, practical and confidential advice to small companies
(those with less than 50 staff) and their employees.
Acas chairwoman Rita Donaghy, said: "Many small businesses are worried
that they may fall foul of employment regulations, but do not have the time to
keep up with what they should be doing.
"Every year thousands of people put in applications to take their
employer to an employment tribunal," she added.
"Yet often, with a little help and discussion at an earlier stage, this
could have been avoided."
The Department of Trade and Industry asked Acas to follow up a
recommendation from the Better Regulation Task Force – which was set up to look
at how life could be made easier for small businesses – by piloting a new
Acas is planning to run the pilot scheme until early next year, when it will
decide whether to continue the scheme on a permanent basis.
Acas employment law advice scheme
– Visit employers to advise on the range of action available to
deal with a problem and the possible legal consequences
– Mediate by getting disputing staff to talk to each other on
ways they can work together
– Investigate a problem and, with the agreement of an employer
and their staff, recommend how to deal with the problem
– Provide an independent person to hear appeals against
dismissal or disciplinary action where there is no other suitable person in the
organisation to do so