With a primary focus on arbitration and mediation, the ACAS endeavors to resolve disputes between groups of employees or workers, their trade unions, and their employers. Maintaining its impartiality and independence, the ACAS has, since the 1980s, shifted from playing a mediating role in ongoing large-scale industrial disputes, to preventive intervention in the form of assistance to businesses and individuals, e.g., training sessions and telephone help lines.
For employers, ACAS provides specialized services such as conciliation and mediation, workplace projects and training. However, irrespective of being an employer or an employee, anyone can get free advice from the ACAS website, or by accessing the help line.
Funding for the ACAS comes from the Department for Business Innovation & Skills. However, the ACAS is a non-departmental body. It is governed by an independent council. This makes it confidential, impartial and independent. For the past 30 years since its founding in 1975, it has been working with various organizations and people, solving problems and improving performances in several areas.
The Council ensures that the ACAS carries out its statutory duties effectively. The Council is responsible for determining priorities, policies and strategic direction. It includes academics, and leading figures from independent sectors, unions, and other businesses. The Council members and the Chair are not full-time roles and are appointed by the BIS Secretary of State.
The Chief Executive manages the normal operations along with a management board, which includes the ACAS regional and national directors. About 800 staff of the ACAS are based in the head office in London and 11 main regional centers, which are spread across England, Scotland and Wales.