Expert’s view Paul Secher on preparing for employment tribunals

Paul Secher sits as an employment tribunal member and is head of JSB
Training and Consulting’s Employment Law Faculty, which runs courses on
preparing for employment tribunals

What is HR’s role in and how proactive should it be in preparing for
employment tribunals?

HR’s role is crucial. Many disputes before employment tribunals are won or
lost before the case begins. HR’s role is key in ensuring that employers take
essential steps to prevent successful actions being brought against them.
Simple steps, such as making sure your employment contracts, personnel policies
and procedures are up-to-date, effective and properly implemented. Effective
practices and procedures are your defence – and your deterrent to a claim being
brought in the first place.

Does HR have a good understanding of employment law?

HR has a much better understanding of employment law than it used to – and
it definitely needs it. The flow of legislation from Westminster and Brussels
has increased enormously and shows no signs of abating. HR must keep abreast of
the latest legal developments and ensure line managers are properly briefed.
Employment disputes often originate down the line. By the time they get to the
HR department, it may be too late – the ‘You did what?!!’ syndrome.

Has HR ever made saved the day or made a difference at a tribunal?

Loads – and nothing to do with clever tricks or even brilliant advocacy.
Usually much more mundane but very effective tactics like: showing not only that
you had a fair procedure in place – but that you also carried it out properly;
you made proper notes of meetings and other events, at the time; you
implemented best practice in your organisation and you trained your managers
and staff in how to operate your policies fairly.

Top 3 Tips

– Documents win cases. Make sure your policies and procedures are up to
date. Make notes – and keep them

– If you need to take advice – internally or externally – take it early
before it’s too late for anyone to help

– Make life easy for the tribunal – get your case in order, with sufficient
copies of all key documents.

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