Key workplace issues for 2014

Acas Chief Executive, Anne Sharp, has given her views on what will be the top workplace challenges for 2014.

With organisations coming out of the recession, she believes that the coming year will continue to hold challenges for workplace relations, including tensions around zero hours contracts and pay. However, she also thinks that there will be opportunities for a greater focus on alternate forms of dispute resolution through the new Acas Early Conciliation service.

“We know from experience that it is always better to resolve disputes as early as possible,” said Anne. “From April anyone thinking of making a tribunal claim will need to contact Acas first for the opportunity of support from our experts to resolve the dispute before it becomes a tribunal claim saving the time, cost and stress of going to a tribunal.”

Speaking on the subject of zero hours contracts, she highlighted the valuable flexibility that such contracts can offer, if used responsibly by employers. But she warned that there was a lot of uncertainty on both sides about zero hours contracts, and that this often led to confusion.

“Employee callers in particular identified strong concerns about their terms being changed at short notice,” Anne explained. “That’s why we welcome the Government’s announcement of a consultation on zero hours contracts which will look at improving guidance for both employers and employees on their use.”

Anne also highlighted the fact that good employment relations are vital for business success.

“Latest research shows that businesses that had established good relations with their workers were less likely to have been damaged by the recession,” she said. “Line managers and supervisors are key to developing positive and successful relationships in the workplace. If employers get their workplace relations right then they are likely to have happier, more motivated staff and a more successful business.”

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