Following the recent supreme court ruling where the current employment tribunal fees were found to be unlawful, the employment team at Harrison Drury explore how employers can minimise their risk.
Following the introduction of the tribunal fees in 2013 the number of employment tribunal claims fell by a staggering 70 per cent, but as the fees are removed it is highly likely that the number of claims will increase dramatically.
The new ruling reintroduces a higher level of risk for employers which exists in terms of brand, finance and reputation.
Given the increased risk, it is prudent for employers to look closely at their existing contracts, systems, policies and procedure to ensure that they are well placed to respond to any claims, going forward.
The decision is still quite fresh, and the full and likely far reaching extent of the effects are yet to be established, but we want to highlight the important things that employers should start thinking about to minimise their exposure.
- Ensure that your managers have access to the information and support they need. Make sure that you, make policies and procedures transparent, compliant and readily available for all to access.
- Highlight company values to staff and have accountability, respect, fairness and equality as cornerstones.
- Remind employees about your commitment to the organisational values and measure conduct against them. Weave the values into annual appraisals and encourage senior staff to lead from the front.
- Challenge poor behaviour where it does exist and address concerns as and when they arise. Encourage employees to do the same.
- Implement a mechanism for effective harassment, conduct and grievance management and effectively roll it out by educating your employees.
- Offer management training on how to deal with issues early – it is much easier to be constructive when starting in a preventative and collaborative position.
- Make informal resolution mechanisms available to employees and educate them to use the tools effectively.
- If managers are dealing with issues formally, make sure they are trained to do so and are comfortable in those situations. This is typically a weak spot in tribunal defences and can be minimised if managers understand what is required of them.
Of course, managing employees is never risk free, but, by embedding good policies and practices now, you are much better placed to avoid tribunals in the future and should the worst happen, you are in a much better place to defend against them.
The employment team at Harrison Drury are on hand with the appropriate guidance and support to ensure you continue to meet your business needs whilst effectively controlling employee risk management. If you have any more questions give the team a call on 01772 258321.