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New annual report reveals continued high demand for Acas' conciliation service after removal of tribunal fees

Thursday 18 July 2019

Workplace expert Acas has published its 2018-19 Annual Report, which reveals another busy year for Acas' individual dispute resolution service.

People have to notify Acas before they lodge an employment tribunal claim. Acas then offers to reach a settlement to the dispute through its voluntary early conciliation service.

The service has continued to see a further increase in demand following the Supreme Court decision in July 2017 to abolish employment tribunal fees.

Acas Chair, Sir Brendan Barber, said:

"This is my final year as Chair of Acas, which has seen another very busy period for our individual dispute resolution service following the abolition of tribunal fees. Demand for early conciliation rose by over 20 per cent and there's been a 40 per cent jump in Acas cases that involve tribunal claims compared to the same period the previous year.

"We have also helped to settle four out of five disputes between groups of workers and their employer. Our collective conciliation service has dealt with several rail networks and their trade unions over the past year such as Northern Rail, Merseyrail and London Underground.

"With the wellbeing of staff recognised as a major workplace issue, Acas has been at the forefront in developing a new framework for positive mental health at work that has already been used by some well-known British and international companies within their workplaces."


Key facts and figures from this year's annual report include:

  • Acas' individual dispute resolution service has continued to see an increase in demand. Overall, notifications have increased by 21 per cent compared to the same period the previous year and the number of cases involving a tribunal claim has increased by 40 per cent. Acas recruited and trained 98 new staff to meet the challenges of the increase in workload due to the abolition of tribunal fees.
  • Acas continued to conciliate to prevent or resolve disputes between groups of workers and their employer with 607 national and regional disputes in a wide range of sectors in 2018/19. Pay or pay related matters was the top cause of disputes. Acas helped to settle 84 per cent of these disputes.
  • There were 1,237,245 contacts through Acas' Helpine and advisory services such as the telephone helpline, helpline online, web chat and facebook messages.
  • Acas trained nearly 50,000 people on a range of workplace topics including the latest changes in employment law.
  • Acas uses insight gathered from its research and from working with millions of people, employers and stakeholders every year to inform and influence workplace policy and debate. This knowledge has led to Acas developing a new framework for positive mental health that has been presented at conferences and within workplaces across the country.

The Acas 2018-19 Annual Report can be seen at:


Notes to Editors

1. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.

2. Anyone thinking of making an employment tribunal claim has to notify Acas first. Acas then tries to resolve the dispute quickly without the need for legal action through its free early conciliation service. Acas' conciliation is still available after a tribunal claim has been lodged until the court date. For more information about early conciliation, please see:

3. Acas' framework for positive mental health at work recommends responsibility for positive wellbeing and productive workplaces is shared between employers, managers and employees. The new framework is already being used by several well-known British and international brands. For more information, please see:

4. Acas' free collective conciliation service can be used when an employer and its employees, usually represented by a trade union, are in dispute over an issue and cannot reach a solution. An Acas conciliator acts as impartial third party in these situations to help the various sides find common ground to reach an agreement. For more information about collective conciliator service, please see:

5. The Acas Chair serves a three year term on the Acas Council. Sir Brendan Barber was appointed Acas Chair commencing January 2014 and is due to finish his second three year term at the end of 2019. A recruitment process is currently underway for a new Acas Chair to start in 2020.

6. The Acas Council sets the organisation's strategic direction, policies and priorities. It consists of the Chair and eleven employer, trade union and independent members, appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

7. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact Shumon Ali-Rahman, Senior Media Manager on 0330 109 3642 or email For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 0330 109 7070.