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Research papers

Update: July 2019 - We recently updated the links to our publications and templates, which are free to download and share. When sharing our materials we recommend linking through to the webpages hosting them (such as this page), instead of linking to individual documents as this means that the most up-to-date versions can easily be accessed.

Acas' Research, Analysis & Insight (RAI) team undertakes and commissions a range of in-depth research projects, findings from which are captured in our research papers series. These papers comprise both evaluations of Acas services and reports which contribute to wider employment relations debates.

Featured research paper

pdf icon Managing workplace conflict - The changing role of HR [457kb]

This research considers academic and practitioner literature on the evolving nature of the HR function and its implications for workplace conflict. It draws on 31 in-depth semi-structured interviews with HR practitioners, to assist in the understanding of how different models of HR management relate to the way in which conflict is managed and to assess the place of employment relations within current HR practice.

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Research papers 2019

  • pdf icon Managing workplace conflict - The changing role of HR [457kb] Ref: 01/19
    Richard Saundry (University of Sheffield), Virginia Fisher (University of West England), Sue Kinsey (University of Plymouth)
    This research considers academic and practitioner literature on the evolving nature of the HR function and its implications for workplace conflict. It draws on 31 in-depth semi-structured interviews with HR practitioners, to assist in the understanding of how different models of HR management relate to the way in which conflict is managed and to assess the place of employment relations within current HR practice.

Research papers 2018

  • pdf icon Acas Digital Advice Evaluation 2018 [731kb] Ref: 02/18
    Alistair Kuechel, Matt Barnes, Siv Svanaes, Helen Rossiter and Sam Whittaker (IFF Research)
    This report presents the findings of an evaluation of digital advice on the Acas website. In all, 3,581 web and telephone interviews were completed with users who responded to a pop-up invitation set up on the Acas website in Spring 2018. The research aimed to evaluate short and long-form employment relations advice, map user journeys, understand the difference between different groups - especially employees and employers - and create a series of future baseline measures to support future evaluation. Download the pdf icon Infographic - Acas digital advice evaluation 2018 [488kb].
  • pdf icon 'Improvement required'? A mixed-methods study of employers’ use of Performance Management systems [1Mb] Ref: 01/18
    Emma Sayers, Amelia Benson, David Hussey, Bethany Thompson, Darja Irdam (NatCen Social Research)
    This report presents evidence from a mixed-methods study looking at employers' use of PM systems in different operational contexts. A survey of managers was undertaken to identify patterns and prevalence and a deliberative research event explored the attitudes and experiences of HR managers responsible for implementing PM systems. The purpose of different PM systems and the values underpinning them are explored, as are their various components and the design and implementation issues being encountered. An account of emerging trends in PM system design is also presented, with some of the important challenges that organisations currently face in this area being highlighted.

Research papers 2017

  • pdf icon Acas Early Conciliation decision-making: Exploring the behaviours of claimants who neither settle nor proceed to an Employment Tribunal [640kb] Ref: 07/17
    Nilufer Rahim, Hannah Piggott, Malen Davies, Emily Cooper, Francesca Day (NatCen Social Research)
    This report presents evidence from qualitative research exploring the experiences of claimants who neither settle at EC, nor proceed to making an ET application.  Thirty-five in-depth interviews were undertaken with a broad range of these claimants, to develop greater insights into the behaviours and motivations of this group and gather evidence to help Acas improve the delivery of the EC service.
  • pdf icon Strategies for Effectively Managing Email at Work [898kb] Ref: 06/17
    Dr Emma Russell,WWK Research Group, Kingston Business School
    Email has been a central feature of working life for well over twenty years, and continues to be a popular communication tool at work. This report explores how email might help people to achieve their work goals, and examines the strategies that are adopted by workers to differentially impact both wellbeing and productivity. The primary aim of the research was to identify factors (or themes) that explain the strategies used to deal with work email. This helps us to understand how, why, when and for whom such strategies will have positive and negative repercussions on productivity and wellbeing outcomes. The research comprised two phases. The first phase included a systematic literature review to provide a rigorous and transparent review of the academic and practitioner research that has been conducted across psychology, management and human-computer interaction fields. This was supported by the second phase which included twelve semi-structured sense checking interviews.
  • pdf icon Flexible working for parents returning to work: Maintaining career development [396kb] Ref: 05/17
    Mary Mercer, The Institute for Employment Studies (IES)
    This report considers how organisations are managing flexible working following an employee's return to work after taking an extended period of leave for parental/caring responsibilities, and how organisations are then supporting people who work flexibly to maintain their career development, considering factors which may contribute to the gender pay gap. The methodology adopted for the study comprised a purposive evidence review, coupled with a series of case studies.
  • pdf icon Supporting trans employees in the workplace [707kb] Ref: 04/17
    Rosa Marvell, Andrea Broughton, Evelyn Breese and Elaine Tyler, The Institute for Employment Studies (IES)
    This report explores how gender identity is managed in UK workplaces and how trans employees can be supported at work. The research reviews recent UK literature and guidance and reports the findings from interviews carried out with a small number of stakeholder organisations (trans and LGBT+ advocacy groups and organisations), employers recognised as exhibiting good practice in this area (members of Inclusive Employers or included in Stonewall's Top 100 Employers) and draws on the experience of trans employees. We have also produced a pdf icon Gender identity typology [393kb] typology to help employers and employees understand the terminology in this area.
  • pdf icon Flexibility in the Workplace: Implications of flexible work arrangements for individuals, teams and organisations [472kb] Ref: 03/17
    Professor Sharon Clarke & Dr Lynn Holdsworth (Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester)
    Flexible working arrangements (FWA) can take a number of different forms. In essence, it allows employees to work flexibly both in terms of when and where they work. Over recent years, FWA have become prevalent in the workplace, and this research largely focuses on how FWA affects the working lives of individuals, teams and organisations. This report is based on a small research study which includes a review of the flexible working literature, along with interviews conducted at two organisations (one public organisation, and one private) to illustrate flexible working in practice.
  • pdf icon Mind Over Machines: New technology and employment relations [584kb] Ref: 02/17
    Patrick Briône (IPA)
    Often when discussing the impact of technology on the future of work, people's minds instinctively turn towards physical robots -yet this is just one small component in the field of technologies that are transforming the workplace for millions of workers. This report looks at the connections between the introduction of new workplace technologies and employment relations. The ways in which technology can affect employees are numerous, and the report explores the impact of new workplace technologies on three key areas; work intensification, worker autonomy and skills development and employee wellbeing. The research is based on three qualitative case studies with UK employers, interviews with key experts in management and a review of existing literature.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of Acas Advisory Projects: Joint Problem Solving Activities and Workplace Projects [867kb] Ref: 01/17
    Daniel Cameron, Michael Clemence and Sara Gariban (Ipsos MORI)
    This report presents the findings of an evaluation of Acas Advisory Projects, centred on a survey investigating users' experiences and longer-term impacts of the service. Advisory Projects are delivered by Acas as two distinct strands of work: 'Joint Problem Solving Activities' (fee-waived projects that deal with collective disputes and may emanate from a prior collective conciliation case) and 'Workplace Projects' (cost-recovered projects that look to find solutions to workplace problems). Both strands were in-scope for this evaluation, which adopts a comparative approach to the analysis and was designed to provide robust evidence for the impact of Acas Advisory Projects across a variety of contexts.

Research papers 2016

  • pdf icon The impact of Acas Open Access training [2Mb] Ref: 12/16
    June Wiseman and Linda Balodis (BMG Research)
    This report discusses the impacts of Acas' 'Open Access' training and looks at the medium to long-term effects of the service to the delegate and their organisation. It compares the impacts and effectiveness of different courses/product types to evaluate the effectiveness of the service.
  • pdf icon The Management of Mental Health at Work [601kb] Ref: 11/16
    Dr Maria Hudson (Essex Business School)
    Mental illness is the largest single cause of disability in the UK. Workplaces are amongst the institutions that contribute to, and impact on, our mental health throughout our lives. This report explores the management of mental health at work, and is based on a qualitative study, with thirty semi-structured interviews undertaken, largely across six case study organisations and other key stakeholders. It puts forward a range of learning points that can be drawn from this case study research to promote positive mental health at work and highlights key recommendations.
  • pdf icon Estimating the Economic Impact of Acas Services [660kb] Ref: 10/16
    Peter Urwin and Matthew Gould (Centre for Employment Research, University of Westminster)
    This papers reports the findings of a benefit-cost analysis of one year of Acas service delivery. The analysis indicates that every £1 invested in Acas returns an estimated £13 in net benefits to the GB economy. This analysis, which is based on services delivered in 2014/15, provides an update to previous benefit-cost analyses drawing on the latest evaluation data across Acas services.
  • pdf icon Neurodiversity at work [619kb] Ref: 09/16
    Helen Bewley and Anitha George (National Institute of Economic and Social Research)
    This report looks at 'neurodiversity' as an issue that impacts on workplace relations. Specifically, it seeks to identify policies and practices which ensure the integration of people with particular neurological conditions (ADHD, autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia) into mainstream employment.  The report also aims to ensure that the benefits of having a 'neurodiverse' workforce are fully-realised.  It is based on case studies of two organisations who are good practice employers, coupled with expert testimony from specialist practitioners.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of pay and work rights calls to the Acas Helpline [528kb] Ref: 08/16
    Rob Warren, Alistair Kuechel, Matt Barnes, Siv Svanaes, Helen Rossiter (IFF Research)
    Following the integration of the Pay and Work Rights Helpline (PWRH) into the Acas Helpline, this paper reports the findings of a survey of 433 callers to the Acas Helpline with a query on a pay and work rights issue measuring satisfaction and call outcomes amongst these callers
  • pdf icon Dress codes and appearance at work: Body supplements, body modification and aesthetic labour [578kb] Ref: 07/16  Dr Vandana Nath, Professor Stephen Bach and Dr Graeme Lockwood
    (School of Management and Business, King's College London).
    This research is based on a review of relevant case law, wider literature review and a series of qualitative interviews to explore issues surrounding dress codes and appearance management in UK workplaces and their impact on employment relations. The report examines employee perceptions and experiences of, and organisational policy and practice in, the area of dress codes, body modifications and aesthetic labour at work. 
  • pdf icon Acas Collective Conciliation Evaluation 2016 [1Mb] Ref: 06/16
    Caroline Booth, Michael Clemence and Sara Gariban (Ipsos MORI)
    This report provides an evaluation of the conciliation service provided by Acas in collective employment disputes. The evaluation is based on a telephone survey of 342 customers (employers and trade unions) who used collective conciliation between October 2014 and December 2015, which was supplemented by 14 in-depth qualitative interviews. The research measures and identifies the determinants of successful outcomes as well as eliciting customers' satisfaction with the service and views about its impact. Download the pdf icon Acas Collective Conciliation Evaluation 2016 infographic [125kb].
  • pdf icon Managing Older Workers: A report for Acas [504kb] Ref: 05/16
    Vanessa Beck and Glynne Williams (University of Leicester)
    The increasing age-diversity of the UK workforce presents opportunities and challenges. In particular, the requirement for age equality in employment and the ending of the Default Retirement Age in 2011 have prompted questions about how an ageing workforce is to be managed. This report reviews the UK and international literature on managing older workers, draws on a range of empirical data and is structured around Acas's seven levers of productivity to highlight a broad range of issues around older workers.  The report concludes by drawing out practical and policy-relevant recommendations.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of Acas conciliation in Employment Tribunal applications 2016 [2Mb] Ref: 04/16
    Matthew Downer, Carrie Harding, Shadi Ghezelayagh, Emily Fu, William Pitt and Andrew Thomas (TNS BMRB)
    This paper reports the findings of an evaluation of Acas conciliation in ET applications; the first service evaluation since the introduction of EC in 2014. It is the second of a two-part evaluation of Acas' conciliation offer, building upon the findings of an earlier EC evaluation (see Ref: 04/15 below), which surveyed users soon after their EC case had concluded. This follow-up study is based on representative (telephone) surveys with claimants, employers and representatives in cases where an ET claim was subsequently submitted by the claimant.  Taken together, the two studies comprise an evaluation that spans the entire conciliation offer, with this second stage examining, among other measures, the impacts of EC on subsequent conciliation and the ET process. Download the pdf icon Infographic - Acas conciliation evaluation 2016 [117kb].
  • pdf icon Going Digital? Harnessing Social Media for Employee Voice [1Mb] Ref: 03/16
    Joe Dromey (The Involvement and Participation Association)
    This report examines the extent to which employers are making use of social media to promote and access employee voice. Social media describes online platforms that allow for user-generated content, interaction and collaboration. This report is largely focussed on enterprise social networks. These have the common features of other social media platforms, but they are closed and exclusive, with membership restricted to an individual organisation. The research included case studies with 6 employers, a review of literature and survey data, interviews with experts in this area, a roundtable discussion and a webinar.
  • pdf icon Managing individual conflict in the contemporary British workplace [528kb] Ref: 02/16
    Richard Saundry (Plymouth University), Duncan Adam (Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick), Ian Ashman (University of Central Lancashire), Chris Forde (University of Leeds), Gemma Wibberley (University of Central Lancashire) and Sally Wright (Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick).
    This report provides a detailed analysis of findings from a qualitative research project that sought to extend our understanding of the management of conflict in British workplaces and how this is being shaped by the regulatory environment. It also examines the influence of the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures.
  • pdf icon Churn and Stability in Workforce Consultation Arrangements using WERS Panel Data [781kb] Ref: 01/16
    Duncan Adam (Research Associate, Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick), John Purcell (Visiting Professor, School of Management, University of Bath) and Mark Hall (Associate Fellow, Industrial Relations Research Unit, University of Warwick).
    This research paper uses the WERS panel data to explore changes in the incidence of Joint Consultative Committees (JCCs) in workplaces in Britain between 2004 and 2011. It builds on earlier cross-sectional analysis undertaken on WERS data (see Ref. 04/14, below), looking at effects at the level of individual workplaces, to go beyond demonstrating association; allowing for causal inferences to be drawn and hence providing further insights and understanding.

Research papers 2015

  • pdf icon Arbitration in collective disputes: A useful tool in the toolbox [814kb] Ref: 05/15
    This report outlines the findings from the evaluation of Acas' Arbitration service. The research covers qualitative interviews with 13 users of the service, including Acas arbitrators, conciliators, employers and union representatives. The research showed that the numbers of cases have declined in recent years, but users continue to welcome it as an alternative means of collective dispute resolution.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of Acas Early Conciliation 2015 [2Mb] Ref: 04/15
    Matthew Downer, Carrie Harding, Shadi Ghezelayagh, Emily Fu and Marina Gkiza (TNS BMRB)
    This report outlines the findings from the first evaluation of Acas' Early Conciliation (EC) service, which was launched in April 2014. The research centred on a representative (telephone) surveys of c.2,500 claimants, employers and representatives whose EC cases concluded September - November 2014. These were supplemented by a series of qualitative interviews with a broad range of these service users.
  • pdf icon Towards a system of conflict management? [611kb] Ref: 03/15
    Paul Latreille (Professor in Management, University of Sheffield) and Richard Saundry (Associate Professor in Human Resource and Leadership Studies, Plymouth University)
    This report draws on data from an in-depth case-study of the management of conflict within Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Based on a survey of operational managers and over 50 interviews with key stakeholders, the research examines the extent to which a system of conflict management has been developed and early findings as to its impact.
  • pdf icon Acas Helpline evaluation 2014 [1Mb] Ref: 02/15
    Carrie Harding and Sarah Hingley (TNS BMRB)
    Report on an evaluation of Acas' national telephone Helpline service, carried out by TNS BMRB, to monitor the performance of the Helpline and provide an understanding of how caller attitudes and satisfaction are progressing over time. The research comprised multiple cross-sectional surveys of a full range of callers - employers, employees and representatives - staggered across four waves, one in each quarter of 2014. This work builds on previous customer surveys carried out in 2011, 2009, 2007 and 2005 (see 15/12, 03/10, 03/07 and 02/05 below).
  • pdf icon Payment of Acas Conciliated Settlements [808kb] Ref: 01/15
    Rob Warren, Katie Spreadbury, Erica Garnett and Sarah Coburn (IFF Research)
    This report fills an important evidence gap for robust data pertaining to payment of Acas COT3 settlements; this was under keen debate following recent concerns at the proportions of claimants who have not received the awards granted to them by Employment Tribunals. Acas therefore commissioned IFF Research to undertake this study of 1,500 claimants who had settled with a COT3 agreement in both PCC and IC cases to measure levels of payment and enforcement. The results confirm longstanding indications that employers are indeed more likely to pay when Acas negotiates a settlement, the survey evidence finding that more than 9 in 10 settlements were paid in full without the need for recourse to enforcement procedures.

Research papers 2014

  • pdf icon An overview of employment relations in the Acas regions [2Mb] Ref: 14/14
    John Forth (NIESR)
    This report examines the nature of employment relations in each of the four broad geographical areas into which Acas' activities are organised (The South East of England; The South West, Midlands and Wales; The North of England; Scotland). It is based on data from the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) series; a national survey of British workplaces and employees which provides a comprehensive account of the state of employment relations and working life in Britain. The WERS data are used to examine changes in each of the specified regions over the period 2004-2011, and to identify areas in which employment relations in each region differs from the Rest of Great Britain.
  • pdf icon Headline estimates from WERS by Government Office Region [4Mb] Ref: 13/14
    John Forth (NIESR) and Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    This report comprises a set of analyses that use the Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) to examine the nature of employment relations in each of the 11 Government Office Regions of Great Britain. An introductory section provides information on the data sources and methodology for producing the regional estimates; the tables of estimates following this introductory note are to be used by the reader is as a reference document. A separate accompanying report (Ref: 14/14, above) provides an overview of employment relations in the four broad regions into which Acas' activities are organised.
  • pdf icon Young people's experiences in the workplace [689kb] Ref: 12/14
    John Forth and Hilary Metcalf (NIESR)
    The aim of this report is to provide up-to-date and nationally representative quantitative evidence on the attitudes and experiences of young workers, by analysing nationally representative survey data. Specifically, the research considers what young people look for in a job; which aspects of the working environment are most effective in engendering their organisational commitment and engagement; and which arrangements for employee voice give young people a sense of influence or involvement at work.
  • pdf icon Researching the current and potential reach of Acas services : Employer and employee tracker surveys [1Mb] Ref: 11/14
    Daniel Cameron, Anne Charlton and Michael Clemence (Ipsos MORI)
    Research investigating awareness and use of Acas and its services amongst its two key audiences - employers and employees - with data based on a nationally representative telephone survey of employers and a face-to-face survey of employees. Both surveys looked at existing use of Acas together with a range of employment issues to identify where unmet employment relations service needs may exist and the level of confidence employers and employees have at dealing with these issues. The project forms part of a programme of work to find out more about the needs and ways to reach existing and new users of Acas.
  • pdf icon Analysis of the nature, extent and impact of grievance and disciplinary procedures and workplace mediation using WERS2011 [795kb] Ref: 10/14
    Stephen Wood (University of Leicester), Richard Saundry (Plymouth University) and Paul Latreille (University of Sheffield)
    This research paper presents an examination of the nature and extent of disciplinary and grievance procedures and the use of mediation in British workplaces. It also explores their links to the incidence of grievances, disciplinary sanctions, dismissals, employment tribunals and employee attitudes. The analysis is based on the Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS) of 2011, and comparisons with its immediate predecessor conducted in 2004.
  • pdf icon An Evaluation of the Acas Model Workplace and Acas e-learning [1Mb] Ref: 09/14
    Dorothy Berry-Lound and Dr Jane Holland (HOST Policy Research)
    This research evaluates the Acas Model Workplace and Acas e-learning services, exploring users' characteristics and their experiences of using the tools, including their motivations for use, how they use and interact with the services, what they have done as a result of using the tools and how they would improve them. In addition the research looks at non-users of Acas e-learning, with a focus on their use of human resources and employment relations e-learning services more generally. The research employed online and telephone surveys with Acas Model Workplace users and Acas e-learning users and non-users; it also includes qualitative interviews with users of both services.
  • pdf icon MacLeod and Clarke’s Concept of Employee Engagement: An Analysis based on the Workplace Employment Relations Study [477kb] Ref: 08/14
    Joe Dromey (IPA)
    This research paper draws on the latest Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS) data to re-examine the four 'enablers of engagement' that David MacLeod and Nita Clarke described as lying behind successful engagement approaches in the 2009 MacLeod Report 'Engaging for Success'. Primarily based on statistical analysis of WERS 2011, it also draws on a literature review of research into employee engagement in order to look at how MacLeod and Clarke's 'enablers' have changed over time and how they vary across organisations and groups of employees. It also looks at how employer actions relate to the enablers of engagement, and the outcomes associated with them.
  • pdf icon An evaluation of the impact of the internal workplace mediation training service [607kb] Ref: 07/14
    Andrea Broughton, Stefanie Ledermaier, Annette Cox (Institute for Employment Studies)
    A comprehensive evaluation of Acas Internal Workplace Mediation Training (which leads to the Certificate in Internal Workplace Mediation accreditation). The research took the form of a telephone survey with mediators who had attended courses and case studies of three organisations, of which two had participated in Acas' in-house training. It sought to examine the longer-term effectiveness of the mediation course for the trainees and also to gain an insight into the effectiveness of the in-house training for organisations.
  • pdf icon Workplace dispute resolution and the management of individual conflict – a thematic analysis of five case studies [433kb] Ref: 06/14
    Richard Saundry (Plymouth Graduate School of Management, Plymouth University) and Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, University of Central Lancashire)
    Substantial policy attention, but fairly little academic research, has been directed at the ways in which organisations respond to workplace conflict - especially the potential for earlier intervention to facilitate conflict resolution through the use of alternative approaches such as mediation. This thematic review aims to provide new insights into the challenges faced by organisations in managing workplace conflict by drawing on data gathered from discussions with HR practitioners, line and operational managers, employee representatives, and trained mediators as part of five organisational case-studies undertaken between 2009 and 2011.
  • pdf icon Acas Workplace Training Evaluation 2013 [3Mb] Ref: 05/14
    Cat York, Sam Fettiplace and Dougal Jamieson (ORC International)
    This research aimed to provide a reliable picture of the short, medium and long-term impacts of Acas Workplace Training, and where possible to provide a comparison to previous research on Acas Workplace Training completed in 2008. The research employed three primary means of data collection: computer aided telephone interviews with training commissioners; case studies of commissioning organisations; and five longitudinal telephone interviews with five of the case study organisations.
  • pdf icon Joint consultative committees under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations: A WERS analysis [372kb] Ref: 04/14
    Duncan Adam (IER, University of Warwick), John Purcell (School of Management, University of Bath) and Mark Hall (IRRU, University of Warwick)
    The second of two new Acas research papers based on secondary data analysis from the Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS). This report analyses survey data on joint consultative committees (JCCs) from the 2011 WERS in the context of wider research, paying particular attention to the effects of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations 2004. The paper examines the incidence, composition, operation and impact of JCCs, focusing on workplaces belonging to organisations with 50 or more employees that have a workplace- and/or higher-level JCC.
  • pdf icon Worker representation in Great Britain 2004 – 2011: An analysis based on the Workplace Employment Relations Study [361kb] Ref: 03/14
    Andy Charlwood and David Angrave (Loughborough University)
    This report examines the incidence, role and impact of worker representatives (union and non-union) in British workplaces between 2004 and 2011 based on secondary data analysis from the Workplace Employment Relations Study (WERS). It seeks to answer two key questions, first, has the scope and influence of union workplace organisation declined over the period 2004 - 2011, against the backdrop of recession? Second, what has happened to non-union representation in the context of the introduction of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) Regulations in 2005?
  • pdf icon Measuring the Value and Impacts of Acas [138kb] Ref: TRI/14
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    This report provides evidence on the value and impact of Acas based on feedback from stakeholders and analysis of a range of evidence on Acas activities and their impact. The underlying data derive from service evaluations undertaken by independent research agencies, in addition to Acas management information. These data were originally collated for the 2013 Triennial Review of Acas, which, as with all Non Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs), is subject to having its function, form and governance reviewed at least every three years.
  • pdf icon User experiences of Acas 'Helpline Online': A qualitative evaluation of the new tool [805kb] Ref: 02/14
    Andrew Thomas and Emily Fu (TNS BMRB)
    This report presents the findings of the first ever evaluation of 'Helpline Online', Acas' automated web-based information and advice service, launched in 2013. The research sought to evaluate the new service at an early stage of its development, to both understand how it was working for users and also to check how it complements the existing telephone Helpline service. An online methodology of web-enabled focus groups was used, and 19 employers and employees were engaged as part of this research.
  • pdf icon The effects of Agency Workers Regulations on agency and employer practice [742kb] Ref: 01/14
    Prof. Chris Forde and Dr Gary Slater (Leeds University Business School)
    This report looks at the effects of the Agency Working Regulations (AWR) on employer and agency practice. It presents recent statistical data on agency working from the Labour Force Survey, alongside findings from 28 interviews, conducted across 11 agencies, four user firms, union and industry representatives, along with a small number of agency temps. The research includes their perspectives on the new contracting forms between agencies, firms and agency temps that have emerged as a result, including the use of the Swedish Derogation model.

Research papers 2013

  • pdf icon 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games: The Acas experience [1Mb] Ref: 11/13
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games presented Acas with a series of challenges and opportunities for obviating the potential for disruption caused by workplace disputes.  In response, Acas set up a programme of work to provide an appropriate range of products and services for employers and employees affected by the Games, particularly in the London area. This summary paper reports on the story of Acas involvement, summarising its key Olympic services and outlining Acas' efforts to leave a legacy of good co-operation between itself, trade unions and employers as a result of working with them before and during the 2012 Games.
  • pdf icon Home is where the work is: A new study of homeworking in Acas – and beyond [1Mb] Ref: 10/13
    Alexandra Beauregard, Kelly Basile and Esther Canonico (LSE Enterprise)
    Homeworking has evolved enormously as an employment practice both within and outside Acas since we first evaluated our own arrangements in 1997. This report offers an updated review of Acas' approach to homeworking based on new data collected among its employees via interviews, a quantitative survey and diary study. These are supplemented by a series of case studies of other UK organisations recognised for their flexible working practices, plus a comprehensive review of the relevant academic research literature. Taking this wide perspective and multiple data sources, the report seeks to better understand what factors contribute to successful homeworking arrangements both from an individual and organisational perspective.
  • pdf icon Young people's views and experiences on entering the workplace [371kb] Ref: 09/13
    Martin Culliney and Andrea Broughton (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    This report summarises the findings of a small-scale exploratory research study on young people entering work, carried out in March and April 2013. The main aim of this study was to gather data directly from young workers to inform the development of Acas guidance for employers on employing young workers and those with relatively limited labour market experience. It is based on qualitative data exploring the views and experiences of the employment relationship amongst young people in Great Britain.
  • pdf icon Acas website evaluation [1Mb] Ref: 08/13
    Ipsos MORI
    This report presents the findings from an evaluation of how employers and employees in Great Britain use and perceive the Acas website. The research used face-to-face in-home interviews, an online panel survey, a telephone survey and in-depth interviews to examine awareness of and use (and non-use) of the website, why and how the website is used, overall satisfaction with the website, outcomes of using the website and use of downloadable guidance and publications.
  • pdf icon Acas Individual Mediation - feedback from participants and commissioners [319kb] Ref: 07/13
    Acas Research & Evaluation Section
    This paper reports findings from feedback questionnaires sent to participants in, and commissioners of Acas' charged-for individual mediation service in 2012/13. The report covers issues relating to the background of the mediation, perceptions of the process itself and parties' satisfaction with the outcome reached.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of Acas' Pre-Claim Conciliation Service 2012 [526kb] Ref: 06/13
    This paper reports on findings from a survey of employers and employees referred for Pre-Claim Conciliation during 2012. The research examines customer satisfaction with outcomes, perceptions of conciliator skills and behaviours and the impact of PCC on employment relationships. It compares findings with those from the last survey carried out in 2010 showing that satisfaction rates and ratings of conciliator skills remain high. The research also provides a baseline for comparison with Early Conciliation.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of the Introduction of a Conciliation Support Team for the Pre-Claim Conciliation Service [942kb] Ref: 05/13
    Early Conciliation is due to be rolled out in April 2014. To support the new service, Acas set up an experiment within the existing PCC service to explore whether the introduction of a team of Early Conciliation Support Officers (ECSOs) to collect basic contact details and gather factual information about the dispute would enhance the conciliator role. Research findings were generally positive in terms of the claimants experience, filtering cases and facilitating conciliation by providing a basis of factual information for conciliators to start their discussions.
  • pdf icon Acas Individual Conciliation Survey 2012 [1Mb] Ref: 04/13
    Alex Thornton and Shadi Ghezelayagh (TNS BMRB)
    This report presents the findings of the fifth in a series of evaluations of Acas Individual Conciliation (IC), dating back to 2004. The 2012 customer survey was notable for being the final evaluation of IC ahead of the introduction of a new fees regime for Employment Tribunals in Summer 2013 and Early Conciliation (EC) in 2014; the findings provide a benchmark against which to make future comparisons from 2014 onwards. Results suggest that the high service standards observed in previous years have at the very least been maintained, with some indication that they have slightly improved in the last two years. Overall the service is found to be in good shape as it enters a new phase in the next year. 
  • pdf icon The use of social media in the recruitment process [516kb] Ref: 03/13
    Andrea Broughton, Beth Foley, Stefanie Ledermaier and Annette Cox (IES)
    Building on previous work for Acas (see paper 11/11 below), this research project considers how and why employers use social media tools for recruitment, the risks and opportunities and the implications for provision of advice to managers, workers and employer and employee representative bodies. It also looks at the policies and strategies employers can put in place to manage legal and reputational risks. A comprehensive literature review is supplemented with case studies of three leading UK organisations that have used social media for the purposes of recruitment, plus the results of an exclusive poll of HR decision-makers undertaken on behalf of Acas in March 2013.
  • pdf icon Workplace mediation: The participant experience [388kb] Ref: 02/13
    Richard Saundry (Plymouth University) and Tony Bennett & Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, University of Central Lancashire)
    This report looks at the longer term impact of workplace mediation on participants. The findings are based on 25 qualitative interviews with mediation participants. Fifteen of the 25 cases were mediated by Acas with a further six managed within in-house mediation schemes and four by a private mediation provider. The majority of the cases came from large, public sector organisations with access to HR advice and expertise and adds to existing work examining similar issues in small businesses.
  • pdf icon Evaluating and Developing Acas Workplace Projects [939kb] Ref: 01/13
    Ipsos MORI
    This report presents the findings from a survey of 158 Acas Workplace Projects users for projects conducted from October 2010 - December 2011. These findings are supplemented with insights from four case studies of Workplace Projects and three workshops with HR professionals. Taken together, this research provides robust evidence for the impact of Acas Workplace Projects and presents an insight into customer views, particularly regarding the future of the service and how it can be improved.

Research papers 2012

  • pdf icon Young people's awareness and use of sources of advice and information on problems and rights at work [453kb] Ref: 19/12
    Fiona Neathey (Acas Research and Evaluation Section) and Sarah Oxenbridge (Employment Research Australia)
    This report explores knowledge and awareness of Acas amongst young people, and in particular, young workers. It draws together evidence from a number of quantitative and qualitative data sources in order to explore the sources of information and advice young workers would potentially use if faced with problems in the workplace; young workers' actual experiences of problems in the workplace and actions taken to address these problems; and their awareness of and trust in Acas and its services.
  • pdf icon Young people entering work: A review of the research [378kb] Ref: 18/12
    Sarah Oxenbridge and Justine Evesson (Employment Research Australia)
    A review of research examining young people's expectations of work, the challenges they face in starting work, and the means by which their transition to work may be improved. Undertaken in the context of high levels of youth unemployment in Britain in mid-2012, the review captures the perspectives of both young people and employers.
  • pdf icon 2011/12 Acas Collective Conciliation Evaluation [667kb] Ref: 17/12
    Chris Hale, George Barrett and Andrew Bryce (Ecorys UK)
    This report provides an evaluation of the conciliation service provided by Acas in collective employment disputes. The evaluation is based on a January 2012 telephone survey of 345 customers (employers and employee representatives) who used 'Collective Conciliation' between November 2010 - November 2011. The research measured and identified the determinants of successful outcomes and overall customer satisfaction as well as eliciting customers' views about the various impacts of the service.
  • pdf icon Acas Individual Mediation 2011/12: Responses from participants and commissioners [261kb] Ref: 16/12
    Acas Research & Evaluation Section
    This paper reports findings from feedback questionnaires sent to participants in and commissioners of Acas' charged-for individual mediation service in 2011/12. The report covers issues relating to the background of the mediation, perceptions of the process itself and parties' satisfaction with the outcome reached.
  • pdf icon Acas Helpline Evaluation 2011 - summary report [783kb] Ref: 15/12
    Cat York and Sam Fettiplace (ORC International)
    Findings from a survey carried out by ORC International of employers, employees and third parties who had called the Acas Helpline in 2011.
  • pdf icon Why Pre-Claim Conciliation referrals become Employment Tribunal claims [878kb] Ref: 14/12
    Research combining quantitative and qualitative methods to explore why Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC) referrals become Employment Tribunal claims. Previous research has shown PCC to be successful (e.g. Ref: 02/09 below), but there until now there has been limited evidence on the substance of PCC referrals that do result in an Employment Tribunal claim.
  • pdf icon Employment relations in SMEs: Day-to-day advice-seeking and the role of intermediaries [736kb] Ref: 13/12
    Agnes Hann (Doctoral student, London School of Economics and Political Science)
    This report presents the results of qualitative research carried out with small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners and managers on how they access information, advice and other types of support in order to prevent and resolve day-to-day employment relations challenges.
  • pdf icon Mediation and Early Resolution - A Case Study in Conflict Management [406kb] Ref: 12/12
    Richard Saundry and Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, Lancashire Business School)
    The fourth in a series of case studies exploring innovative approaches to conflict management in the workplace. The focus here is a large private business in the service sector working across the UK and in particular, the organisation's use of mediation in handling individualised conflict. This follows earlier papers on conflict resolution strategies; two in the public sector and one in a private sector organisation (see Acas Research Papers 01/11, 05/12 and 08/12, below).
  • pdf icon Downsizing envoys: A public/private sector comparison [278kb] Ref: 11/12
    Dr Ian Ashman (Institute for Research into Organisation Work and Employment, University of Central Lancashire)
    This report explores the experiences of public 'downsizing envoys' - employees that have been tasked with breaking the (generally bad) news to staff about their potential job loss. It focuses on experiences in the private sector and contains comparative evidence drawn from an earlier study conducted in a sample of public sector workplaces (see 03/12, below).
  • pdf icon The Diffusion of 'Good' HR Practices Across the Supply Chain [409kb] Ref: 10/12
    David Holman, Ryan Lamare, Damian Grimshaw, Lynn Holdsworth, & Mick Marchington (Manchester Business School, University of Manchester)
    This report provides an exploration of why and how organisations might influence the diffusion of HR practices across supply chains using a case study approach. Increasing the use of high performance working practices in suppliers can contribute directly to organisational success and lead to higher employee well-being, but it is not without its challenges, as the report discusses.
  • pdf icon Segmenting the SME Market and Implications for Service Provision - A Literature Review [353kb] Ref: 09/12
    Professor Robert Blackburn (Kingston Business School, Kingston University London)
    There are a number of ways in which the SME market can be segmented and defined, but which characteristics are most appropriate for an effective engagement strategy is questionable. This report reviews the evidence published in academic, government and practitioner literatures, with a view to contributing to a framework for the segmentation of the SME market for Acas. In so doing, it aims to feed into the development of an appropriate strategy for Acas to better serve the SME population via its good practice services and dispute resolution services.
  • pdf icon Conflict Resolution and Mediation at Bradford MDC - A Case Study [260kb] Ref: 08/12
    Richard Saundry (iROWE, Lancashire Business School)
    Taking as its starting premise that we perhaps need to look beyond mediation alone as a means of developing increased 'conflict competence' within organisations, this report explores the case of an organisation - Bradford Metropolitan District Council (MDC) - that has introduced a range of approaches in order to try to reshape the way in which conflict is managed and disputes handled. This is the latest in a series of Acas research papers exploring innovative approaches to conflict management in the workplace (see also 05/12 and 01/11, below).
  • pdf icon Public sector employers' attitudes to use of Acas collective conciliation [337kb] Ref: 07/12
    Andrea Broughton and Annette Cox (IES)
    This report presents the findings of a series of qualitative interviews with public sector managers aimed at understanding their experiences of, attitudes towards and approaches to collective dispute resolution.  The research is an employer-focussed companion piece to three earlier, trade union-centred studies which have found that negotiators in the public sector are less likely to have used Acas collective conciliation than those in the private sector (see 09/11, 10/11 and 07/10, below).
  • pdf icon Representation in Employment Tribunals: Analysis of the 2003 and 2008 SETA [750kb] Ref: 06/12
    Franz Buscha (Westminster University) , Peter Urwin (Westminster University) and Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University)
    This study reports the findings from an investigation of representation in employment tribunals, using the 2003 and 2008 Survey of Employment Tribunal Applications (SETA). The overall aim is to provide a comprehensive picture of representation in ET cases at the point of application (for claimant) and response (for employer), during the course of the claim, and at the point of any full hearing.
  • pdf icon Managing Individual Conflict in the Private Sector - A Case Study [378kb] Ref: 05/12
    Richard Saundry and Gemma Wibberley (iROWE, Lancashire Business School)
    "Can managers develop ways in which the conditions that lead to formal disciplinary and grievance issues are either averted or remedied?" This report seeks to explore this question in greater detail by examining the ways in which a large UK retail organisation manages workplace conflict and seeks to resolve individual employment disputes. This report is one in a series of papers exploring innovative approaches to conflict management in the workplace.
  • pdf icon Report of the Second Employment Tribunal/Acas pilot on attendance of Acas individual conciliators at Case Management Discussions [236kb] Ref: 04/12
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    Case Management Discussions (CMD) are conducted in more complex Employment Tribunal cases. This report covers the findings of the second pilot study Acas has undertaken with the ETS to explore the possibility that the attendance of an Acas conciliator at a CMD would increase the chances of case resolution. The second pilot took place in 2010 and aimed to build on the findings of the first study and to give a clear steer on whether there would be benefits in adopting this approach. 
  • pdf icon ‘The nature of bad news infects the teller’: The experiences of envoys in the face to face delivery of downsizing initiatives in UK public sector organisations [288kb] Ref: 03/12
    Dr Ian Ashman (Institute for Research into Organisation Work and Employment, University of Central Lancashire)
    This report explores the experiences of those public sector employees that have been given the task of delivering the generally bad news of downsizing decisions face-to-face with the victims and then deal with the immediate repercussions. The aim of the research is to better understand the demands that being a 'downsizing envoy' places on individuals undertaking the role and, in particular, how the public sector context impacts upon those demands. 24 envoys were interviewed, drawn from nine public sector organisations operating in the North West of England.
  • pdf icon Addressing discrimination in the workplace on multiple grounds - the experience of trade union Equality Reps [188kb] Ref: 02/12
    Sian Moore, Tessa Wright and Hazel Conley (Working Lives Research Institute, London Metropolitan University and Queen Mary, University of London)
    This report provides some insight into the complexities of dealing with multiple discrimination from the experiences of trade union Equality Reps, suggesting that multiple discrimination can be difficult to identify, and may include characteristics outside of the protected equality grounds. The existence of a 'glass ceiling' leads to combined discrimination of gender and age.
  • pdf icon The experience of discrimination on multiple grounds [280kb] Ref: 01/12
    Maria Hudson (Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster)
    This report explores the experiences of multiple discrimination of Employment Tribunals claimants and reviews some case reports from Citizens Advice Bureaux and considers the issues of multiple identities, the role of workplace culture and advice and support needs of people experiencing discrimination.

Research papers 2011

  • pdf icon Looking Back to Move Forward - Assessing the Impacts of Acas Workplace Projects [777kb] Ref: 15/11
    Jon Cooper (Acas)
    Acas workplace projects are carried out in organisations throughout England, Wales and Scotland by Acas to improve employment relations within workplaces using joint problem solving and joint working. This report merges data from three telephone surveys of management and employee participants to evaluate the impact of workplace projects over a three and a half year period. The report starts with a look back of this Acas service over its life span before highlighting key findings from the data to give an overarching assessment of the context and impacts of workplace projects to inform the future of this service.
  • pdf icon A survey to assess the impact of Acas Open Access training services [638kb] Ref: 14/11
    Elizabeth Kwaw, Ros Grimes and Andrew Bryce (Ecorys)
    Acas evaluates all training service courses immediately after each event via customer feedback forms, however this report represents a more in-depth evaluation based on longer questionnaires with Acas' main commissioning clients, 3-9 months post-training. The report discusses the impacts of 'Open Access' training detailing the medium to long-term organisational effects of the service and comparing impacts and effectiveness of different topic/product types to evaluate and improve the service.
  • pdf icon Mediation: A Thematic Review of the Acas/CIPD Evidence [806kb] Ref: 13/11
    Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University)
    The growing policy interest in mediation mirrors Acas' ongoing commitment to encouraging and supporting early dispute resolution in the workplace. Dr Latreille's thematic review of mediation in the workplace provides an overview of the key issues relating to mediation - its benefits, risks and the challenges in establishing effective mediation arrangements at work.
  • pdf icon Acas Mediation 2010/11: Responses from participants and commissioners [217kb] Ref: 12/11
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    This paper reports findings from feedback questionnaires sent to participants in and commissioners of Acas mediation in 2010/11. The report covers issues relating to the background of the mediation, how participants felt about the process and explores mediation outcomes and parties' satisfaction with outcome.
  • pdf icon Workplaces and Social Networking: The Implications for Employment Relations [386kb] Ref: 11/11
    Andrea Broughton, Tom Higgins, Ben Hicks and Annette Cox (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    This report sets out the results of a exploratory research project examining the implications of social networking and mobile information and communications technologies in the workplace. It seeks to inform the development of Acas guidance for managers on handling employment relations issues arising from employee use of social networking tools, and identify and explore research gaps. 
  • pdf icon Trade Union Officers and Collective Conciliation - A Secondary Analysis [1Mb] Ref: 10/11
    Edmund Heery and David Nash (Cardiff Business School)
    This report presents a secondary analysis of survey data collected by the Labour Research Department (LRD) on behalf of Acas in 2010. The report builds upon this initial work and presents a secondary analysis of the dataset, distinguished principally by a fuller statistical examination of patterns of variation in trade union officers' use of Acas collective conciliation. The report also takes in an examination of the characteristics of union officers themselves as well as an exploration of the incidence and characteristics of industrial disputes.
  • pdf icon Trade union officers’ preferences and attitudes towards dispute resolution [384kb] Ref: 09/11
    Chris Bond (WREAC Doctoral Student, University of Sheffield)
    This paper reports on a qualitative follow-up study to an earlier survey of trade union negotiating officials undertaken by the Labour Research Department (LRD) on behalf of Acas in 2010. Eighteen in-depth interviews with officials who had made little or no use of Acas collective conciliation in the past decade were undertaken to more fully understand this group's preferences and attitudes - their favoured methods for resolving ER disputes, their knowledge of Acas collective conciliation and, in particular, any views that might be deterring them from using Acas.
  • pdf icon Workplace conflict management: A poll of business [509kb] Ref: 08/11
    Matt Williams and Acas Research and Evaluation Section
    This report presents the findings from a telephone poll of owners, finance directors and other senior financial decision-makers across small and medium/large businesses. Respondents were asked about grievance and disciplinary handling in their organisation, and asked to consider the impact of the new Acas Code of Practice and guidance on arrangements. They were also asked about their awareness and use of mediation as a tool for resolving workplace disputes.
  • pdf icon The Dispute Resolution Regulations two years on: the Acas experience [467kb] Ref: 07/11
    Barbara Davey and Gill Dix (Acas Research and Evaluation Section)
    Following the 2007 Gibbons Review of Dispute Resolution, Acas has played a key role in implementing the policy changes that emerged. This report sets out progress over the two years since the implementation of the 2008 Employment Act in April 2009. The evidence presented provides a benchmark for future monitoring of dispute resolution activities and outcomes, and highlights what Acas is doing more widely to promote the Gibbons agenda.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance procedures [550kb] Ref: 06/11
    Nilufer Rahim, Ashley Brown and Jenny Graham (NatCen)
    A qualitative evaluation of the Acas Code of Practice on disciplinary and grievance procedures. The new Code, which replaced the old statutory 3-step procedures in 2009, introduced a principles-based good practice approach.  36 in-depth interviews were undertaken to explore how the new Code is understood and used by employers, employees and their representatives and to explore the impact of Code upon disciplinary and grievance procedures.
  • pdf icon The role of employment agencies in pay setting [344kb] Ref: 05/11
    Chris Forde (Leeds University Business School) and Gary Slater (University of Bradford)
    Report on a small pilot study to provide evidence and understanding of how temporary work agencies set pay levels and, where they do not set pay, the extent to which they influence pay. This report provides a detailed account of the variety of practices and different type of contracts entered into by agencies and the indirect role of setting profit margins in influencing pay.
  • pdf icon SETA survey of representatives in Tribunal cases 2008 [1Mb] Ref: 04/11
    Carrie Harding and Erica Garnett (TNS-BMRB)
    This report presents the findings from the survey of representatives that was undertaken as part of SETA 2008. The main aim of the 2008 survey was to obtain a specialist perspective on the system of employment rights litigation with a particular interest in understanding the views of representatives about the role of Acas conciliators in the process.
  • pdf icon Unlocking Engagement: A Review of the 'Innovative Workplaces' Initiative [1Mb] Ref: 03/11
    Lynette Harris, Alan Tuckman, Derek Watling and Bernadette Downes (Nottingham Business School, Nottingham Trent University)
    This report presents an evaluation of the 'Innovative Workplaces' Initiative. This programme of work, funded by the East Midlands Development Agency, offered in-depth support to ten diverse organisations seeking to improve organisational  performance. The report offers evidence to support the argument that improvements in communication and employee engagement lead to positive performance outcomes for organisations.
  • pdf icon Service user perceptions of Acas’ conciliation in Employment Tribunal cases 2010 [1Mb] Ref: 02/11
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section and Infogroup/ORC International
    This report presents the findings from the latest in a series of Individual Conciliation customer surveys, undertaken in 2010. In addition to exploring customer experiences, it also compares key differences in customers' views between 2007 and 2010. Once again the results from the survey are positive and further highlight the value of Acas involvement in Employment Tribunal cases.
  • pdf icon Transforming Conflict Management in the Public Sector - Mediation Trade Unions and Partnerships in a Primary Care Trust [578kb] Ref: 01/11
    Richard Saundry, Louise McArdle and Pete Thomas (the Institute for Research into Organisations, Work and Employment (iROWE) at the University of Central Lancashire)
    An important and timely contribution to Acas' research into the use of mediation as a method for responding to individual grievances and disciplinary matters in the workplace. This research is based on an in-depth exploratory case-study of East Lancashire Primary Care Trust. ELPCT provided a useful setting in which to examine the extent to which the introduction of an in-house mediation scheme triggered sustainable changes in the way in which the organisation manages individual conflict.

Research papers 2010

  • pdf icon Social Dialogue and the changing role of Conciliation, Arbitration and Mediation Services in Europe (CAMS): A five country study of third party dispute resolution [286kb] Ref: 09/10
    Steve Jefferys with Nick Clark, Sylvie Contrepois, Gill Dix, Fiona Neathey, Marinus Pires Lima, Volker Telljohann and Joanna Unterschutz
    The CAMS project brought together social partners, public authorities and industrial relations experts from France, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the UK to exchange information about the development of conciliation, arbitration and mediation services in Europe against the background of changing trends in individual and collective conflicts at work. This report brings together findings from all five of the States that were involved in the study.
  • pdf icon Evaluation of the first year of Acas' Pre-Claim Conciliation service [569kb] Ref: 08/10
    Acas Research and Evaluation Section & Infogroup/ORC International
    This report describes the findings from the first evaluation of Pre-Claim Conciliation (PCC) since it was rolled out nationally in April 2009. The research involved a survey of more than 1000 PCC service users (employers, employees and representatives), in-depth interviews with employers and employees who declined the offer of PCC as well as interviews with parties involved in successfully resolved cases. The wide-ranging nature of the research gives a rounded picture of the effectiveness of PCC in its first year.
  • pdf icon Trade union negotiating officials' use and non-use of Acas conciliation in industrial disputes [677kb] Ref: 07/10
    Clare Ruhemann (Labour Research Department)
    This report describes the findings of an exploratory research project investigating trade union officials' experience of dealing with collective employment disputes, the extent of their use of Acas 'collective conciliation' as a strategy for resolving disputes and their reasons for any non-use. The focal point of the research was a full, structured survey to map officials' views, strategies and behaviours: 1,024 officials from 63 trade unions responded, making this one of the most comprehensive surveys of paid union negotiating officials in recent times.
  • pdf icon Mediation at work: of success, failure and fragility [277kb] Ref: 06/10
    Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University)
    This paper explores how employer attitudes to mediation vary according to the outcome of the most recent case. It uses data from  survey of employers undertaken by the CIPD in conjunction with Acas. This is the first occasion that multivariate modelling of mediation outcomes has been undertaken in the UK setting.
  • pdf icon SME attitudes towards workplace mediation: the role of experience [277kb] Ref: 05/10
    Paul L. Latreille (Swansea University), Franz Buscha and Anna Conte (Westminster Business School)
    This paper contributes to the workplace mediation debate by undertaking secondary analysis of an Acas Omnibus Poll of SMEs. Two substantive issues are explored: the characteristics associated with previous experience of mediation in resolving workplace conflict; and the impact of prior knowledge and experience of mediation in this context.
  • pdf icon An evaluation of the Acas in-depth advisory service [603kb] Ref: 04/10
    Author: Derek Mitchell and Wendy Mitchell (Alpha Research Ltd)
    The in-depth advice Acas offers is a free service delivered either by telephone or in person. The service is accessed primarily on behalf of employers and offers advice on addressing employment relations issues within the workplace, which are often of a highly complex nature. This paper reports on the findings of a survey of employers who accessed the service between May and October 2009.
  • pdf icon Acas Helpline evaluation 2009 [1Mb] Ref: 03/10
    Author: Alex Thornton and Nic Fitzgerald (TNS-BMRB)
    Report on a mixed-methods evaluation of the Acas Helpline, carried out by TNS-BMRB. This paper focuses on a two-wave survey of callers undertaken to measure the effect of various changes to the service during 2009. A complementary phase of qualitative research, probing more deeply into issues covered within and raised by the surveys, is also reported on.
  • pdf icon Report of the Employment Tribunal/Acas pilot on attendance of Acas individual conciliators at Case Management Discussions [183kb] Ref: 02/10
    Author: Acas Research & Evaluation Section (based on research conducted by Chris Farrell and Robin Legard)
    Case Management Discussions (CMD) are conducted in more complex Employment Tribunal cases. In 2009, Acas and the ETS conducted a pilot to explore the possibility that the attendance of an Acas conciliator at a CMD would increase the chances of case resolution without recourse to a full hearing. This report describes a qualitative evaluation of the pilot and puts forward some considerations for any future roll-out of the service.
  • pdf icon An Integrated Evaluation of Acas Workplace Projects [748kb] Ref: 01/10
    Authors: Andrea Broughton, Daniel Pearmain and Annette Cox (Institute for Employment Studies)
    Acas 'Workplace Projects' (renamed as 'Business and Skills Solutions' in 2008/09) are carried out in organisations throughout England, Wales and Scotland by Acas Advisers. Their purpose is to improve employment relations within workplaces by involving employers and employee representatives in joint problem solving and joint working. This report integrates the findings from the most recent qualitative and quantitative research on the impact of Workplace Projects/ Business and Skills Solutions.

Research papers 2009

  • pdf icon The Employment of Migrant Labour in the East Midlands [263kb] Ref: 04/09
    Authors: Alan Tuckman and Lynette Harris (Nottingham Business School)
    The second of two new research studies on employer use of migrant labour - this shorter paper is based on interviews at three case study companies in the East Midlands.  It considers the impact that employment of migrant workers has had on human resources and employers' practices at this significant destination for migrant workers from the EU Accession States.
  • pdf icon Employer use of migrant labour -motivations, experiences and HR responses [454kb] Ref: 03/09
    Author: Sonia McKay (Working Lives Research Institute)
    The first of two new research studies on the employment of migrant labour - this report was based on interviews with a range of managers at six case study companies in the hotel and catering and construction sectors.  It investigates the procedural and employment relations challenges surrounding the employment of migrant labour, with a particular focus on whether HR policies and practices influence the employment of migrant workers; and also whether their use has a subsequent impact on HR arrangements
  • pdf icon Pre-Claim Conciliation pilot – Evaluation summary report [183kb] Ref: 02/09
    Authors: Ann Denvir, Siobhán O'Regan, Matthew Williams, Annette Cox, Daniel Pearmain and Hülya Hooker (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    The Acas Pre-Claim Conciliation Service (PCC) aims to identify workplace disputes between employers and employees which may become employment tribunal claims and resolve them effectively before they enter the tribunal system. The findings of this evaluation show cost and time savings to both employers and employees involved in this pilot and a net financial benefit to the taxpayer. Employers, employees and their representatives report high levels of satisfaction with case outcomes and with the Acas PCC service during the pilot.
  • pdf icon Management handling of sexual orientation, religion and belief in the workplace [561kb] (Ref: 01/09)
    Authors: Sarah Dickens, Martin Mitchell and Chris Creegan (NatCen)
    A new research study draws directly on employers' experiences of managing sexual orientation, religion and belief at work. Joint-funded by Acas and the CIPD, the research explores experience of SORB issues among employers and managers; the challenges they face; examples of good practice; and the generation of solutions. This practical-minded research report sets out creative new solutions and strategies for handling these key aspects of employing people in the workplace.

Acas-sponsored reports on the impact of the Information and Consultation Directive

Acas commissioned research in collaboration with BIS and the CIPD on the impact of the Information and Consultation Directive. The research, carried out by Warwick University, involved a series of case studies in small, medium sized and larger workplaces. Companies were visited across a period of three years in order to explore progress on consultation arrangements.

Click to download the four reports that have been published so far from the BIS website (all open in new windows).

Research papers 2008

  • pdf icon Service users perceptions of Acas’ conciliation in Employment Tribunal cases 2007 [501kb] (Ref: 07/08)
    Authors: Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS)
    Independently written by TNS Social Research, this report presents findings from the 2007 survey of customers of the Acas Individual Conciliation Service, and also compares key differences in customers' views between 2005 and 2007. The results from the survey are positive and highlight the value of Acas involvement in Employment Tribunal cases.
  • pdf icon Accompaniment and representation in workplace discipline and grievance [508kb] (Ref: 06/08)
    Authors: Richard Saundry, Valerie Antcilff and Carol Jones (University of Central Lancashire)
    This report describes the findings of a pilot study which explored the impact of the accompaniment and representation of employees within disciplinary and grievance processes. The research focussed on eight case studies of employing organisations and was carried out in April and May 2008. Interviews were conducted with Human Resource managers, operational managers, trade union representatives and employee companions.
  • pdf icon Acas conciliation in collective employment disputes [557kb] (Ref: 05/08)
    Authors: Alex Dawe and Fiona Neathey (Acas Research and Evaluation Section)
    This report provides a wide-ranging evaluation of the conciliation service provided by Acas in collective employment disputes. It draws particularly on research conducted over the 2006-7 period, together with research from previous academic studies to provide an overview of the nature and outcomes of Acas work in this area.
  • pdf icon Acas workplace training impact survey 2008 [614kb] (Ref: 04/08)
    Authors: Jonny Gifford, Emanuela Carta and Annette Cox (The Institute for Employment Studies)
    Acas regularly evaluates customer attitudes towards its training provision, however, in the case of its bespoke Workplace Training service, this has previously been limited to collecting immediate feedback from trainees. This report describes the findings of the first ever survey to assess the medium- to long-term organisational effects of the service.  By interviewing main commissioning clients, 3-15 months post-intervention, the survey evaluated the impacts of Workplace Training on its customers, particularly with regard to the promotion of effective employment relations, providing a rich source of new information.
  • pdf icon Conflict at work: The pattern of disputes in Britain since 1980 [279kb] (Ref: 03/08)
    Authors: Gill Dix (Acas), John Forth (NIESR) and Keith Sission (University of Warwick)
    This paper investigates the scale and causes of the decline in collective expressions of conflict and the concurrent growth in the individualised expression of conflict in the part quarter century in Britain. It also draws upon a wider range of indicators and sources to investigate changes in the overall level of workplace discontent and the role of workplace institutions.
  • pdf icon Knowledge and use of mediation in SMEs [189kb] (Ref: 02/08)
    Author: Tim Johnston (Acas Research and Evaluation Section)
    Following on from the recommendations from Gibbons for an increased use of mediation, Acas commissioned research to look at the level of knowledge and use of mediation within Small and Medium Enterprises. This report presents the results of telephone interviews with the decision maker of 500 SMEs.
  • pdf icon Small firms and workplace disputes resolution [519kb] (Ref: 01/08)
    Prepared by: Lynette Harris, Alan Tuckman and Jereme Snook (Nottingham Trent University) and Stephanie Tailby, Sue Hutchinson and Janet Winters (University of the West of England)
    Research concerning the experiences and views of managers in SMEs regarding methods for dispute resolution. The study was carried out by a collaborative team from Nottingham Trent University and University of West of England. The report is especially relevant as Acas turns it attention to the recommendations stemming from the 2007 Gibbons Review of Dispute Resolution.

Research papers 2007

Research papers 2006

Research papers 2005

Research papers 2004

Research papers 2003

  • pdf icon Conciliating in Unfair Dismissal Employment Tribunal Applications [260kb] (Ref 05/03)
    Author: ORC International and Acas Research and Evaluation
    Based on an experiment to examine changes in the management of unfair dismissal employment tribunal caseloads, this research assesses the impact of making contact with parties immediately upon receipt of a respondent's application, compared to waiting to receive an employer's response.
  • pdf icon Acas User Feedback Report 2003 Helpline [295kb] (Ref 04/03)
    Author: BMRB Social Research
    A report on the findings of the 2003 survey of callers to the Acas National Helpline, considering areas such as customer satisfaction, call content, caller characteristics, and action taken following the call.
  • pdf icon Information and consultation at work: from challenges to good practice [504kb] (Ref 03/03)
    Author: Gill Dix and Sarah Oxenbridge
    Drawing on data from interviews with Acas staff and organisations, this paper captures many of the 'best practices' used to improve workplace consultation and communication. It also highlights the challenges to, and benefits of, developing effective information and consultation practices.
  • pdf icon Public Sector Disputes and Third Party Intervention [373kb] (Ref 02/03)
    Author: Susan Corby
    A report on the different methods used by third parties to resolve workplace disputes, comparing disputes and their resolution in the public and private sectors.
  • pdf icon Resolving collective disputes at work: User perspectives of Acas collective conciliation services [386kb] (Ref 01/03)
    Author: Donna Molloy, Robin Legard & Jane Lewis
    A study of parties' experiences of the Acas collective conciliation service, highlighting the methods used in assisting the parties to settle disputes. It also considers perceptions of the role of conciliators and longer-term benefits of the use of conciliation.

Earlier papers

  • pdf icon Operating with Style [220kb]
    Author: Gill Dix
    An issue of particular importance in bringing about an out-of-court settlement in a dispute is the mediation techniques used to resolve the situation. This paper is a systematic account of the operating styles of Acas conciliators based upon interviews with the conciliation parties.
  • pdf icon Work and Employment Relations in Kent [208kb]
    Author: Geoff White, Jan Druker and Mike Edmunds
    This report details the results of a survey of employment practices and policies at workplaces in Kent. The survey was conducted in the summer of 2001 and was carried out by the University of Greenwich Business School with financial support from Acas South Eastern Area.

Acas Individual Conciliation 1998 (RP01)
Author: Jane Lewis and Robin Legard (Social and Community Planning Research)
This report gives a detailed account of what applicants, respondent s and their representatives want from conciliation, how they see the process and how satisfied they are with the service they receive. This paper is not available to download. Hard copies are available from our publication section of the website

An Evaluation of Homeworking in Acas (RP02)
Author: Ursula Huws, Siobhan O'Regan and Sheila Honey (Institute for Employment Studies)
A report on the experiences of Acas home workers, of particular interest to those who would like to initiate or develop a homeworking strategy and those assessing the impact of existing homeworking arrangements. This paper is not available to download. Hard copies are available from our publication section of the website.

Employment relations in Britain: 25 years of Acas (MP01)
Author: Brian Towers and William Brown (Eds.)
A collection of papers written by a range of experts in employment relations, commissioned to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Acas, covering its past work and future challenges. This paper is not available to download.

Contact the research team

If you require further information about Acas' research papers or wish to contact the Acas research team, please email

Please note: we cannot offer employment advice via email. For free confidential help and information on work related issues, see the Acas Helpline.