Employment tribunals are not something any employer wants to have to deal with, but the reality is that they are on the rise. In an increasingly litigious society, we take the time this month to explore the reasons behind this rise, what they are used for, and how you can protect your business.
Why the increase?
Back in 2013, the Government introduced a fee to take cases to an employment tribunal. At the time, this led to a dramatic drop in the number of cases. However, this all changed last year when such fees were deemed to be unlawful and were therefore removed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the number of tribunals has since jumped and is continuing to rise. According to this year’s annual report from Acas, both early conciliation and cases involving tribunal claims have increased since last year.
What are tribunals used for?
Tribunals are used to settle disputes between employees and their employers on cases related to employment rights. This typically involves cases such as discrimination, unfair dismissal, wage disputes, and redundancy payments. Tribunals are not as formal as being in a courthouse, but they are still an independent judicial body. They are not there to give legal advice, but to act as a place where disputes can be resolved. They are open to the public and hearings are under oath – similar to a court – or affirmation.
Protecting your business
Avoid the stress and disruption of a tribunal, not to mention the cost of it, particularly if it finds in favour of the employee, by implementing a few key pieces of advice:
- Employment law. Know the basics and keep informed of changes as they are proposed and when they come into force. Changes happen regularly, either through legislation or case law, which means that you may be vulnerable without realising.
- Be smart. Make sure that you have policies and procedures in place that set out what is expected of both you as an employer and your employees. Stick to those policies and update them as often as is necessary. Have contracts in place for your staff so that everyone knows what is expected of them.
- Be wise when employing new staff. Will they be a good fit for the organisation and work well with the existing team? Consider behavioural profiling as one way of making sure they will be.
- Communicate clearly and often. Talk to your team, make sure they are happy and deal with any issues before they escalate and become serious problems. Communicate any changes for the business with your team and get their input if appropriate through consultation.
- Have an open door to employees to come to you with any problems or concerns so that they can be dealt with quickly. More often than not, early intervention can solve a problem and avoid it re-occurring before it has time to become insurmountable.
For more advice on how to avoid a tribunal or how to set up the right mechanisms to avoid getting to that point, talk to our team at Hammonds Accountants. You can reach us by phone on 0203 007 4990 or email at whenever you need us.