Acas stands for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service and gives impartial employment and HR advice to employees and employers. Acas is a public body funded by the Department for Business and Trade within the government.
We’ll explain how Acas can be a really useful resource for you as an employer.
The best part about Acas is the advice they give is free to both employers and employees. Their advice is impartial and aims to improve and promote good relationships between employers and employees.
You can ask questions about rights, practices, policies and workplace conflict without racking up huge legal bills. Acas has a contact helpline and a website with a lot of useful information about all sorts of employment matters such as discrimination, leave entitlement, dismissals, redundancy, reasonable adjustments and much more.
It’s a good source of reliable information that both employees and employers can refer to when they have employment-related doubts or queries.
Why do I need an employment lawyer if I can get free advice from Acas?
Acas compliments the role of HR advisors and employment lawyers. When you speak to Acas they will give you general advice about your employment rights but won’t give you advice on what your next steps should be in a dispute or circumstance.
Acas avoids formal pleadings and can’t act as your representative because it’s an impartial service.
So unlike Acas, employment lawyers will give you legal advice and opinion on your specific circumstances or dispute. A lawyer will give you advice on strategies you can use to resolve your issue and achieve an outcome with your business in mind – that could be moving towards a settlement agreement or representing you at Employment Tribunal.
Independent legal advice will ensure you’re in the best position to negotiate with your employee in a dispute and achieve the outcomes you want, whilst complying with UK employment law.
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Before going to the Employment Tribunal
More often than not, Acas is used when an employment relationship has broken down but the employer and employee are trying to work through a dispute.
You have to tell Acas if you or an employee decides to make a claim to the employment tribunal.
Before even getting to the tribunal, Acas offer what they call “early conciliation” first which is a means of trying to resolve the dispute beforehand.
They will go back and forth between the employer and employee to try and settle the dispute by reaching an agreement. This is ideal because the service is free, confidential and can often provide a much swifter resolution than going to the employment tribunal.
In some cases, the type of solutions you can get from early conciliation may not be available at the tribunal, such as an employee looking to get a job reference when they were originally refused one by their employer.
As part of the process, parties will be given a conciliator which will be the person who tries to help you settle your disputes. They will give you an overview of the law so that you’re aware of your rights and obligations, they’ll also let you know about similar cases and their outcomes.
The conciliator will be the middleman between you both, giving possible options but always remaining independent.
Acas Codes of Practice and Policies
Acas has its own codes of practice which are essentially employment policies. They have ones on disciplinary processes and grievance procedures, flexible working arrangements and settlement agreements.
Whilst these are great tools for employers to help them understand how they should follow employment processes according to the law, they are also highly important when it comes to disputes and employment tribunal cases.
When a claim is brought to the tribunal, the first thing they do is to check if the employer followed the right Acas codes of practice.
If they haven’t been followed, tribunals have the power to adjust awards for compensation by up to 25% for “unreasonable failure to comply” with the Acas Code.
As such, Acas plays not only a very useful, but also an important role in employment law and HR, so it’s a good idea to take note and make sure you’re following their advice where possible.
Employment relationship breakdown?
Managing people isn’t always straight forward and from time to time employer, employee relationships can break down. At Primed, we give businesses personal support from qualified HR advisors to deal with workplace compliance and HR challenges confidently.
If you’d like to find out how we can support you and your team, speak to an expert today on 01622 47 41 49 or emailing email@example.com.
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