Regardless of whether you’re running a small start-up business with just a handful of employees, or a large corporation with hundreds of staff members, the thought of discontented employees making employment tribunal claims is a worrying prospect. For an employer, it’s really a no win situation, as even in cases where the claim is found to be unjustified, the employer will still usually have to cover their own legal fees, and the claim – however untrue it may be – can still damage their business’ reputation. And of course, if the claim is successful, the employer typically has to pay out a substantial amount of money in compensation.
Although it might seem obvious, the easiest way to avoid getting involved in an employment tribunal claim is to make sure that you understand employer employment law, so that you can avoid disputes in the workplace. It’s also very important to make sure that the way in which you treat employees on a daily basis is consistent and fair – discrimination must be avoided and you must meet your contractual obligations. In addition to this, you have to comply with all of the legal requirements in regards to things like remote and flexible working, as well as health and safety.
Unfortunately, even if you study and comply with every aspect of employer employment law, problems will still arise – you might need to make an employee redundant, or you may need to discipline or dismiss them. However, provided you’ve created property grievance and disciplinary procedures, you should still be able to resolve difficult workplace issues without a claim being made to the employment tribunal. Bear in mind that if worst comes to worst and an employee decides to make a claim against you in an employment tribunal, the amount awarded to the employee may be higher, if it is found that you did not follow the aforementioned procedures.
In addition to complying with employer employment law, encouraging employees to voice their concerns can make all the difference. Maintaining a communicative atmosphere in the workplace is important if you want to reduce the likelihood of being brought to a tribunal. Employees who feel comfortable enough to speak directly and informally to their employers, and who feel that their employers will actually address their problems, are far less likely to make a claim. When employees are properly involved and consulted regarding difficult changes, such as redundancies, the chances of confrontation and legal disputes are much lower.