New Early Conciliation service takes off

Anyone thinking of making an Employment Tribunal claim must now contact Acas first, to consider using its free Early Conciliation service. 4,000 people have already contacted the service since it launched on 6 April 2014 and 98% of those have decided to try the service. Acas reports that its first Early Conciliation case was settled within 24 hours. Acas chair, Sir Brendan Barber, said: "Early Conciliation has got off to a very good start and has given us the chance to help more people resolve their disputes early as well as save taxpayers some of the cost of running the tribunal system." You can read more about Early Conciliation on the Law Donut blog.

80 minutes of working time lost each day

British workers waste more than an hour and 20 minutes procrastinating at the start and end of each working day, according to new research. surveyed more than 500 workers, all of whom worked in 9–5:30 jobs, to find out when they mentally clocked on and off at work. The research found that 9:43am is the average time that office workers confess to buckling down to work. And the average respondent said they effectively "switched off" at 4:52pm every day.

SMEs must listen to their customers on payment options

Businesses are not investing enough in new payment technologies, according to research by Sage Pay. Its Payments Landscape 2014 report found that 36% of consumers say they are more likely to shop at places that offer a range of payment methods or innovative payment types. Despite this, 80% of businesses polled say they will only embrace new payment methods, such as contactless payments, payment apps or bitcoins, if customers request it. Simon Black, CEO at Sage Pay, said: "Reducing friction should be the focus for every business – whether that's looking at moving away from cash towards newer payment types or adopting an omni-channel approach."

Postgraduate students to help UK firms expand overseas

Postgraduate students are to be recruited to help firms overcome language and cultural barriers that stop them breaking into overseas markets. Business secretary Vince Cable has announced that UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) will work with universities and business schools to identify students with language skills who can help UK exporters with tasks including making new contacts, advising on cultural etiquette and developing international websites. Research by Professor Foreman-Peck from Cardiff Business School estimates that as much as £48 billion in international sales is lost every year because of language and cultural ignorance.