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Real help now with disputes at work


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Issued Date: 03 Apr 2009

Resolving problems at work should now be easier for people and businesses, Employment Relations Minister Pat McFadden said today.

From Monday, a new streamlined process for resolving disciplinary and grievance issues will come into effect. The central aim of this is to reduce the number of people going to employment tribunals and simplify the system for dealing with workplace disputes.

Minister for Employment Relations, Pat McFadden said:

"Tribunals can be costly, time-consuming and draining for people and businesses alike.

"We have changed the rules so that employers and employees will have greater flexibility to deal with grievances and disciplinary issues at work at the earliest opportunity. Acas' expanded helpline and conciliation services will play a key role in delivering this".

Employees and employers will be able to call the Acas helpline for impartial and confidential advice on the options available for resolving workplace problems. They will also be able to access a free early conciliation service for certain types of cases, with the aim to reduce the need for people to enter into full tribunal procedures.

Following the passage of the Employment Act 2008, a number of obligations on employers and employees when dealing with workplace issues have now been removed.

The previous system, which instructed employers to follow a mandatory three-step system in resolving disputes, will be dismantled and employers will instead develop systems which best suit their workplace. Acas has developed a statutory code of practice to set out best practice guidelines for employers.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said:

"We welcome these new changes and will be monitoring their impact on the Employment Tribunal system closely. The aim is that, where possible, it will be easier - and quicker - for both employees and employers to resolve their disputes in the workplace, without needing to escalate them to the Employment Tribunal. However, even where this is not possible it will still mean a quicker and more streamlined approach for those claims that do end up at the tribunal."

John Taylor, Acas Chief Executive said:

"These changes should help improve relationships between managers and employees: cutting down disputes whilst saving time, money and stress for all concerned."

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

"It is always best if employers, employees and their union representatives can fairly resolve problems in the workplace. These new dispute resolution arrangements rightly focus attention back on internal grievance and disciplinary procedures."'

Katja Hall, Employment Policy Director at the CBI said:

"CBI members attached great importance to this review and are pleased that the new regulations place substance rather than procedure back at the heart of resolving workplace disputes. This, and the focus on addressing problems at work early, will increase the number of workers who stay in their jobs, have a positive impact on industrial relations and can reduce costs for all parties."

Ben Wilmott, senior public policy adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development adds:

"As a result of these changes, I am optimistic that employers will benefit from greater opportunities to resolve disputes in the workplace before they escalate to the point where they end up in an employment tribunal".

Notes to Editors

1. For details of the regulatory procedures that apply until 6 April and for those which apply from 6 April go to: vingdisputes and http://www.businesslink. For details of the transitional arrangements that will apply go to disputes.

2. The Employment Act received Royal Assent on13 November 2008. It makes the following key changes to the law: a) the existing statutory procedures for dealing with discipline, dismissal and grievance issues, as set out in the Employment Act 2002, will be repealed. b) employment tribunals will have discretionary powers to adjust awards by up to 25% if employers or employees have failed unreasonable to comply with the revised principles based Acas Code of Practice and c) the fixed time limits on Acas post-claim conciliation have also been removed.

3. Acas can now step in earlier, their helpline number is 08457 47 47 47 and is open 0800 - 2000 Mon to Fri and 0900 - 1300 on Sat. Acas' early conciliation service can be accessed by calling the helpline. Their website is at and the Acas Code of Practice can be accessed at:

About the Author

Crown Copyright. Material taken from the BERR- Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform replacing DTI - Department for Trade and Industry. Reproduced under the terms and conditions of the Click-Use Licence.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-04-04 12:50:44 in Employee Articles

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