The new Acas arbitration scheme which comes into operation next week will provide a fast and confidential disputes resolution process, Acas chairwoman Rita Donaghy has claimed.
Donaghy told Personnel Today that the new scheme will deal with 1,000 unfair dismissal cases in its first year and will lift some of the burden from employment tribunals.
Arbitration hearings will be held at locations convenient to both parties, either at an Acas office, other public office or at the employer's or trade union's premises.
The parties will have to send a copy of their respective case, any supporting documents and a list of who will be attending to the Acas arbitration section at least two weeks before the hearing.
Hearings will be informal and confidential and will usually be completed in a day. The parties receive the arbitrator's written award via Acas, normally within three weeks of the hearing.
The increase in the number of complaints received by Acas slowed to 1.6 per cent last year compared with an increase of more than 30 per cent the previous year.
From April 2000 to the end of March 2001 there were a total of 167,186,cases compared with 164,525 cases for the previous 12 months and 124,256 for 1998-99.