What to do when faced with an Employment Tribunal

As an employer the most important element of your business is your employees.  This comes with many responsibilities; you have to ensure they are delivering their side of their role such as meeting targets, and you must ensure you are providing the necessary training and support to enable them to do so.

Even if you feel you go above and beyond for your employees, there can come a time when a situation is not handled correctly, or an element of your handbooks or contracts is not up to date, and you could be faced with an Employment Tribunal claim from an employee.

As an employer you will be considering where you went wrong, who was responsible for the issue not being identified earlier, how it will impact your other employees, whether it will lead to reputational damage…and how much it could cost you.

While all of these questions are important, the first thing you need to do is seek legal advice.  With a competent Employment lawyer by your side, we will be able to guide you through the steps to take to ensure the best outcome for you and your business.

Fundamentally there are several considerations you need to be aware of:

ACAS Early Conciliation

This is the stage prior to attending Employment Tribunal and, if successful, could mean you avoid court altogether.  ACAS will work with the employee bringing the claim and yourself to try and resolve the dispute out of court and reach a settlement.

Representation

If ACAS Early Conciliation is not successful and you do end up facing the Employment Tribunal it is imperative you do not attempt to represent yourself.  Employment law is extremely complex and it is easy for those not aware of the law to become tongue-tied and misrepresent themselves and their meanings.   Having an experienced Employment lawyer represent you means you have the best possible chance of winning the case.

Manage your time

Tribunal claims can go on for many months so you must ensure you manage your time carefully. Adequate time must be had when preparing your documents for court; the worst thing would be to wait until the week before the trial to start preparations such as meeting with witnesses.  Appointing an Employment lawyer represent you will assist with this, as they can advise when documents need to be submitted and the correct time frames that need to be adhered to.

In order to allow you to focus on the case, you may be required to delegate other responsibilities within the business to your managers.

Possible outcomes

If you lose the tribunal case you may have to pay compensation and the level of this will depend on the nature of the case itself.  You may also have to reinstate the employee in your business and if so, careful procedures will need to be followed.

If you win the case, you won’t be entitled to compensation but you can make a claim for costs.

The future

No business should wait to be faced with a tribunal claim before they start taking notice of their processes, handbooks, staff contracts and training.

You should be ensuring your manager(s) responsible for HR stay up-to-date with changes in Employment Law, whether that be through newsletters, training or appointing an employment lawyer to update documents each time the law changes.  We have a weekly Employment Law Newsletter which will review a recent litigation case, with practical steps for employers.  To request to be added to the distribution list, email events@warnergoodman.co.uk, or click here to view the latest issue.

Your managers all need to be aware of how to handle grievances that may be raised against colleagues, and the correct way to conduct a disciplinary hearing as these are the main ways in which a dismissal can be found to be unfair; leading to the claimant winning the case.  Training is an excellent way for your managers to learn the legalities of these types of issues, and our events also use case scenarios, quizzes and other interactive methods to bring the legal side to life.  Find out more about the seminars we run by clicking here, or email events@warnergoodman.co.uk to receive the invitations directly.  Our bespoke training may also be of benefit to you as we take your particular business ethos, policies and objectives into consideration when delivering the material; click here to find out more details as to how we can help your business in this way.

Our employment law support package Peace of Mind, equips employers with the tools to avoid tribunal claims, from the annual documentation audit, unlimited advice from our legal team, and access to training.  Find out more about Peace of Mind, by contacting Martin Giles at martingiles@warnergoodman.co.uk or call 023 8071 7717.

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