Harrison Drury’s employment team explain how you should respond to an employment tribunal claim and how you can protect your business in the first place now that employment tribunal fees have been abolished.
What would you do if your business was faced with an employment tribunal claim? Ultimately, the hope is that you will never find yourself in this position, but the recent abolition of employment tribunal fees – the introduction of which back in 2013 saw the number of claims decrease by a staggering 70% – may spike a correspondingly sharp increase in such claims.
As trusted employment and HR advisers, we recognise that most people who run successful businesses strive to treat their company’s most valued assets – the people working there who contribute to its success – well.
This does not mean that such businesses will be conflict-free; far from it. While conflict can often be resolved at a relatively early stage, sometimes a complainant will resort to an employment tribunal to seek resolution of the matter. So, what can you do to protect your business?
Seek trustworthy advice
It is important to seek initial advice from a trusted legal professional as early as possible. The recent abolition of employment tribunal fees may lead to an increase in unmeritorious claims against employers. It is therefore important that you have a reputable legal adviser waiting in the wings to provide an assessment of the merits of the situation.
Consider your legal and procedural options
Through legal intervention, it may be possible that a party with a poor case against your company can be persuaded to discontinue their claim. Alternatively, under the Employment Tribunal’s procedural rules, it is possible for a party to apply, at any stage of the proceedings, to strike out all or part of a claim on specific grounds, including that the claim is “scandalous or vexatious or has no reasonable prospect of success”. This option will not be available in all cases, but an appropriate legal representative will be able to advise you whether it is an option worth pursuing.
In some instances, a case brought against an employer may be weak, but it may not be sufficiently weak to warrant being struck out without a full hearing. In addition, some people may not be willing to accept the deficiencies in their own case and may be determined to proceed regardless. In this situation, the limited recoverability of costs in employment tribunals means that many businesses will be faced with having to pay legal fees to defend unmeritorious claims.
Take out appropriate insurance
One way to guard against the costs of having to defend against a claim is to take out insurance which will cover the costs of defending the case. One example of such an available insurance policy is that offered as part of Harrison Drury’s HR Compass service.
With HR Compass you get the benefit not only of an initial audit of all employment-law related documents and unlimited, direct contact with a designated employment law specialist, but also a comprehensive insurance policy which insulates your business from the costs of claims and awards which may be made against it.
Take action now
No business wants to find itself in the unfortunate position of having to defend a claim brought against it. However, given the pressures of the modern workplace, and the diversity of personality contained within it, in some cases it will be nigh on impossible to prevent a conflict from escalating. With this in mind, the prudent employer will take reasonable steps to protect itself.
For further information on how Harrison Drury might be able to help your business, please contact Roger Spence on 01772 208072.
Find out more about HR Compass, Harrison Drury’s specialist employment law product. HR Compass comprises three core components designed to offer seamless financial and business continuity protection for businesses. These include an employment law health check, expert fixed-fee employment law advice and an insurance policy to protect against the cost of employment claims.