In this 7-part series of blog posts, we explore the basics of employment law to help offer advice to managers and business owners.
Here is part 3: ACAS
ACAS is the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. It is a Crown non-departmental government body.
Its history goes back to 1894 but in its current form, as we would recognise, it started in 1974 mainly to help resolve industrial disputes which were quite prevalent at the time. Perhaps most famously at that time, the miners strike which led to power cuts and the 3 day working week. Some people may be old enough to remember doing their homework by candlelight, shopping by candlelight and the TV finishing at 10.30 to save power. Happy days.
ACAS offer training to employers and advice to anyone who is having a problem at work. They can also help in resolving disputes big and small. Recently they assisted in brokering a deal to stop the Royal Mail strikes but they can also help in resolving smaller disputes.
They also publish a number of guides and codes and the ACAS Code of Practice for handling Disciplinary and Grievance issues is very useful. Although not legally binding, failure to comply with it will be looked on unfavourably. Keep a copy close by for reference. It is a very good reference point.
They have a formal role when employees have a dispute with their employer and offer compulsory conciliation which must be gone through before a formal claim is made. Only when this has been exhausted will ACAS issue a certificate with a number so the claim can proceed. By entering compulsory conciliation, the clock effectively stops ticking towards the 3-month mark to make a claim. Once the certificate is issues, the clock starts ticking again.