More employers and staff are seeking help to resolve workplace disputes in a bid to avoid employment tribunals, according to the conciliation service.

Acas said demand for its early dispute resolution service increased by a third over the past year to almost 24,000 cases.

The number of cases which do not lead to employment tribunal hearings increased by four per cent to 78 per cent, Acas said in its annual report.

Unfair dismissal was the most common problem handled by the early resolution service.

Anyone intending to make an employment tribunal claim will have to contact Acas first from 2014 under Government proposals.

Acas chairman Ed Sweeney said: "It's very good to see that more people are resolving disputes earlier by using our pre-claim conciliation service. Our new early conciliation service will mean that disputes will be referred to Acas before a tribunal claim can be lodged and I hope it will build on the success of pre-claim conciliation when it's introduced in 2014."

The Acas helpline received almost a million calls over the year on issues such as discipline, dismissals, redundancies and contracts.