Qualitative Research on Unrepresented employers and claimants views of the Acas Individual Conciliation service in Race Discrimination claims

Funded by: ACAS


December 2006 to July 2007

PSI researchers:

Background, summary and aims

Background and Aims

As part of a wider evaluation programme of the ACAS Individual Conciliation services this qualitative research project aims to gain an in depth understanding of the expectations, experiences and views of unrepresented claimants and employers in race discrimination claims who have sought individual conciliation.

For both the employers and claimants the research seeks to explore:

  • The background circumstances and motivations leading to claims, actions to resolve difficulties and internal resolution methods employed prior to the claim
  • The role of ACAS in the claim and the experience of using ACAS individual conciliation service, drawing out their initial expectations and perceptions of the multiple levels at which satisfaction can occur during the service encounter.
  • The impact of the claim on the individuals and employers involved and the outcomes for them of the individual conciliation service and tribunal outcome, for those whose claims went to a full hearing.
  • The experiences of advice and information sought throughout the claim and suggestions for additional information, advice or interventions that would have been useful or might have prevented a claim being submitted.  

Project Design

The research will involve 40 depth interviews; 25 with claimants and 15 with respondents. Participants for the research will be purposively sampled in order to ensure a spread of characteristics relevant to the research, such as ethnicity, gender, outcome of case, size and sector of employer. A priority will be given to sampling respondents and claimants in recent cases to minimise problems of recall.

The depth interviews will follow a semi-structured topic guide, which will allow participants to describe their individual experiences fully and in their own words, while also ensuring that key domains of interest to the research are discussed in detail across the sample. To help facilitate the process of interviewees sharing and reflecting on their experiences, the topic guides will incorporate vignettes, short stories describing a typical scenario and asking respondents to react.

Importance of Research

In order to establish whether it’s individual conciliation is meeting the needs and expectations of service users, ACAS invites them to participate in surveys of individual conciliation customers. Data from the most recent survey, conducted between April and June 2005, suggests that in race discrimination cases compared to other jurisdictions, unrepresented claimants and unrepresented respondents were less satisfied with the service and outcome of their case. This research will provide insight into the reasons for the unrepresented claimants and unrepresented respondents satisfaction gap in the delivery of Individual Conciliation services in Race Discrimination claims. The findings will feed into ACAS consideration of measures that might be taken to make service improvements.