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How can I reduce the risk of tribunal claims?

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Your employees are the foundation of your company, so treating them fairly and consistently will lead to a productive, loyal workforce, as well as helping you stay out of the Employment Tribunal.  You are not always able to stop an individual from bringing a tribunal claim, but you can mitigate the risk of it happening by treating everyone that comes into contact with your company, whether they are an employee or a prospective employee, fairly and reasonably.  Our Employment team explain here the main ways that you can reduce the risk of a tribunal claim being brought against you, and how we can also help.

Know your employment documentation

To ensure that your employees know what is expected of them during their employment, you should provide them with a contract and a written statement of particulars of employment as soon as possible and in any event within two months of the employee’s start date.

You should have a clear disciplinary, grievance and capability policy which is seen and understood by your employees. These documents should be reviewed regularly to ensure they offer the best protection for you and your business, and you should also follow the ACAS Codes of Practice at all times; not doing so could lead to an increase of 25% in any award given at the Employment Tribunal, should you find yourself there. 

Communication between your managers and your employees

Training your managers to recognise discontent and holding meetings with staff to address concerns means these can be dealt with early and may prevent them turning into a dispute.  Managers should know how to take staff through formal procedures when there are issues with performance, conduct and absence.  Providing your managers with the right tools to conduct these formal procedures with confidence and within the law will avoid conflict, minimises allegations of discrimination and damage to the employment relationship, and ensures that any formal action is justified and can be defended.

If an employee is not performing and you wish to begin capability proceedings with them, you must ensure that during any formal meeting with them, you identify in writing:

  1. the issue;
  2. what their explanation is;
  3. how you have investigated their explanation, and
  4. explain why you  have discounted it if this is the path you have chosen.

This will help minimise tribunal claims, reduce employee turnover, absenteeism and increase employee engagement.

Consistency in the process

Tribunal claims may arise when you treat someone differently than you have treated others previously. You should manage your workforce in a consistent and objective way; following your policies and procedures as well as relevant and regular management training will help you avoid inconsistent treatment between your employees.

Following a fair procedure when conducting dismissals

Dismissals can often lead to tribunal claims and so it is important to identify the correct procedure. Do you have capability concerns due to an employee’s health, or their skill, or their conduct?  All three need to be treated differently, and sometimes there are mixed reasons for underperformance.  A more compassionate, supportive, coaching approach can help reduce the possibility of a claim. The Employment Tribunal will judge every case on their individual facts; however, generally, as long as the employee has not been prejudiced or discriminated against by the procedure and ‘label’ you adopted, the Employment Tribunal will be likely to find the dismissal fair.

Supporting employees with a disability

You should always ensure that reasonable steps are taken to prevent a disabled person being at a disadvantage. This includes adjusting policies, changing access at work, or providing auxiliary aids such as providing information in Braille, large print or email.

Having a claim brought against you as an employer will be disruptive, costly and could damage your reputation.  We can provide you with the right advice if a claim is brought against you, can help to reduce the risk of such claims through our employment package, Peace of Mind, and can provide you with bespoke in-house training to ensure your managers are being consistent and acting within the law.  To find out more about how we can support you and your business, contact us today on 023 8071 7717 or email employment@warnergoodman.co.uk

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.