5 tips for avoiding employment tribunals

Recent research suggests that there will be an increase of 46% in the number of Tribunal claims over the next three years, and this looks set to cost UK employers £2.6 billion, or an average of £7000 per claim.

The rising number of claims is due to the numerous changes in employment law and regulations combined with an increased awareness of workers’ rights and the amount of damages awarded and the rise of no-win no-fee legal advisors. Despite most employers having their employees’ best interests at heart when taking a personal approach to issues such as redundancy or retirement, a lack of clear procedure and a comprehensive paper trail can leave an employer vulnerable to litigation.

HR consultancy Jaluch suggest that although the rise in claims may be inevitable, there are measures businesses can take to make sure they avoid becoming part of these statistics.

Regional Director for Jaluch, Elisabeth Fitch says: “There are some signs that there are the much talked about green shoots of recovery are starting to appear in businesses of all sizes, but the rise in Tribunals poses an immense risk. As businesses struggle to get back on their feet as we come out of recession, a Tribunal may lead many otherwise successful businesses to failure.”

Fitch offers businesses her top five tips for preventing tribunals and limiting the damage if they arise:

Don’t think it won’t happen to you

No one’s invincible, and prevention is always better than cure. A clear paper trail is the key to defending your case; plan ahead and always get everything in writing. If a situation arises, get advice early and you’ll have a greater chance of avoiding a costly court case.

Keep your house in order

80% of all Tribunal claims are lost as a result of failing to following a reasonable process or procedure – regardless of whether the action itself, such as redundancy, is considered fair, if the procedures are shown to have not been followed, a business will lose its case. Proper policies for dismissals and grievances can save a lot of time – and expense – in the long run.

Learn from your mistakes

If you have been taken to a Tribunal by an employee in the past, you need to ensure that you make changes following that case. This is not only to protect you in the future, but also to provide a demonstrable way of showing the court that changes have been made. Apart from the cost of subsequent claims, tribunals will not take a lenient approach in favour of the employer if they discover a prior claim on a similar topic which had not lead to any improvements.

Keep calm and carry on

Managers need to have emotional and social intelligence to manage possibly inflammatory situations and potentially difficult people. There are a range of training courses available on this topic and managers should take responsibility and seek to always behave appropriately, whatever their personal views, to ensure the company is fully protected.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Jaluch offer a range of services from help drafting policies to advice on the nature of Tribunal claims, dealing with the paperwork and planning a strategy for defence. For around half the cost of a solicitor, the HR consultancy provides businesses with preventative and defensive measures for businesses which may otherwise be crippled by the costs arising from even a single Tribunal.

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