ACAS has published a research paper evaluating its Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, which was introduced in April 2009. The research concludes that more can still be done to encourage early resolution of disputes and increase employer - especially small employer - awareness of the Code.

Among other things, the research finds that:

  • While employers welcome the flexibility in handling disciplinary and grievance procedures, they are concerned that uncertainty about the legal status of the Code and how tribunals may interpret the Code's key principles of 'fair' and 'reasonable' has, for some employers, increased their worry about tribunal claims.
  • Employee representatives are worried that the ACAS Code weakens the employee's position because employers are no longer bound to follow set procedures.
  • Generally, employers considered the Code made tribunals fairer for employers as they could no longer be 'struck down' for failing to follow exact and specific processes.
  • The repeal of the statutory procedures had decreased the number of grievances as there was no longer a need to file a grievance before submitting a claim to the tribunal.
  • Awareness and understanding of the Code among HR staff and employee representatives was lowest among employers with less formalised HR functions.