Free advice on employment law

A scheme to help small firms in London deal with employment disputes has been launched by Acas, the employment-relations advice service.

Aimed at businesses with less than 50 employees, the scheme will provide free advice and information, with Acas advisers providing the following:

  • visits to employers to give advice on the range of possible actions in the light of a dispute
  • information on possible legal consequences
  • mediation to help solve workplace disputes
  • an independent person to hear an employee’s appeal against a discipline or grievance procedure decision“Acas already offers free mediation when an employee has made a complaint to the employment tribunal, and has a strong record. Last year almost 100,000 complaints were made to an employment tribunal, yet only 23% ended up at a hearing,” says Jerry Gibson, Acas London regional director.

    The London firms interested in the service should contact Lionel Harrison at Acas on 020 7396 5136, or visit the Acas website at www.acas.org.uk. The programme was originally piloted in East London and will run until September this year.

    In a related story, recent research from information solutions provider GEE Consulting has revealed that 90% of SME managers find it difficult to keep abreast of employment legislation. Findings showed that basic contractual arrangements are misunderstood by many small employers, leaving them open to the threat of legal action, and that there is also a lack of knowledge about basic employment rights.

    “The law keeps changing so itÂ’s important that smaller organisations are aware of their responsibilities. They are no longer exempt from certain legislation and need to understand the law as it applies to them,” cautions Stuart Chamberlain, employment law specialist at Consult GEE.

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