Criticism for Acas’ work dispute plan

Employers
hoping that Acas’ long-awaited voluntary arbitration process will reduce the
time and cost of resolving workplace disputes could be disappointed.

Yvonne
Bennion, co-author of Courts or Compromise? Routes to Resolving Disputes,
believes the Acas scheme could become as rigid, formal and expensive as the
current tribunal process.

The
report argues that alternative dispute resolution schemes, such as the one
proposed by Acas, do not guarantee fairness or consistency in outcomes.

Bennion
said, "These cases happen where managers have not taken action swiftly
enough, have not checked out the circumstances of a dispute or kept the right
records.

"Managers
have got the chance to keep down the number of disputes if they address these
issues."

Will
Hutton, the Industrial Society’s chief executive, said, "The real key to
reducing workplace conflict is to make recourse to the law the last resort.
Instead, conflict resolution should be embedded in high-quality management
systems and processes that address the causes of disputes and grievances at
their source."

Speaking
at the launch of the Industrial Society report, Acas chairwoman Rita Donaghy
said the voluntary arbitration scheme, which is due to start in the summer, had
many benefits.

She said, "We believe the new scheme will be a faster,
cheaper, more private and informal option ñ far less overwhelming than the
courtroom atmosphere of an employment tribunal."

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