Acas helplines get the thumbs up!

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Results from a survey of people using Acas's telephone helplines last year showed that 95 per cent of respondents were either very satisfied or satisfied with the service. The survey results, published yesterday, also revealed that nearly all callers - 98 per cent - said they would use the service again.

Acas staff answer over 750,000 calls a year giving confidential help and advice on a wide range of employment issues such as pay, discipline procedures, dismissal, holidays, redundancy and maternity rights. The number of calls has grown significantly year on year, reflecting in part the increase in the number of employment rights.

Acas Chair Rita Donaghy OBE said, "The results show what a very highly-valued service Acas's telephone helplines provide. This reflects the excellent advice and guidance our staff give out, often solving potential problems at a very early stage and reacting quickly to local and national issues that affect people's working lives.

"The vast majority of our callers were complimentary about the quality, presentation and value of the information they were given. One interesting finding was the high use of the service by the small business sector with a majority of both employers and employees ringing from small workplaces - often those without in-house employments rights experts.

"Although the results show our service is highly appreciated by users, the survey has given Acas food for thought. For example some people did experience difficulty getting through but this did not seem to affect their overall satisfaction with the service they received. It also revealed that people under 25, and people from some ethnic minority communities, are less likely to call us. We need to make sure that everyone at work knows that Acas is only a 'phone call away when they have a question or problem on an employment matter."

Stephen Alambritis of the 160,000 strong Federation of Small Businesses said, "This survey bears out what we have been saying for some time - that small businesses place a great deal of trust in the confidential and impartial advice they receive from the Acas helplines."

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