Professor Stephen Wood leads Acas report on disputes procedures

Report based on analysis of two government surveys, the Workplace Employment Relations Surveys of 2004 and 2011

Professor Stephen Wood leads Acas report on disputes procedures

Professor Stephen Wood from the Centre for Sustainable Work and Employment Futures is the lead-author on a new ACAS research report on disciplinary and grievance procedures. It is based on analysis of two government surveys; the Workplace Employment Relations Surveys of 2004 and 2011.

In the wake of concerns about possible consequences of increased formalisation especially for SMEs, expressed most forcibly in the 2008 Gibbons Report, Wood’s report shows:

  • There was no evidence in WERS2011 of any reduction in formality between 2004 and 2011, following the Gibbons Report and consequent changes to the regulatory framework of individual dispute resolution in the late 2000s. Instead, the increasing trend towards the adoption of formal procedures has continued so they are now almost ubiquitous. Organisational practices had coalesced around the three key stages set out in the statutory procedures and now enshrined in the Acas Code.
  • The provision for workplace mediation is now a significant feature of British workplaces. However, there is little to suggest that mediation is being used at an early stage to prevent disciplinary and grievance matters entering formal procedures or resulting in litigation. Instead, mediation use appears to be a response to experiencing employment litigation or increased levels of conflict.
  • The incidence of individual employment disputes is mainly influenced by workplace and workforce characteristics as opposed to conflict-resolution processes and procedures.

The report is S. Wood, R. Saundry and P. Latreille (2014), Analysis of the nature, extent and impact of grievance and disciplinary procedures and workplace mediation using WERS2011, London: ACAS Research Paper,10/14.

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