Ellen Singer, of Peninsula’s Legal Services Department, attempts to give employers some key tips to ensure that your company is in the best position to win a Tribunal, should you be taken to one.
One of the questions we are regularly asked is how to avoid being taken to Tribunal. Sadly, if you are in business there is no way to guarantee that you won’t be on the receiving end of a tribunal claim. The challenge is not to prevent claims but to try and ensure that you don’t lose them.
People will bring a Tribunal claim because they can, not necessarily because they think they are right. In many cases there are outside drivers such as trying to claim benefits or activate payment protection insurance that force a tribunal claim. Claimants can also be encouraged by the option of “no win, no fee” solicitors and the thought that they will get a commercial settlement.
The best method of avoiding Tribunals is to act reasonably and follow clear, transparent procedures that show your actions are justified. Comply with all basic requirements of employment law, such as issuing statements of main terms and conditions and pay slips. You need to make it clear that any claim will face an uphill struggle so that it looks less attractive and unprofitable.
Make sure you follow correct procedures. Any issues that occur should be handled promptly and consistently through the appropriate method. Keep employees informed of any issues that could affect them and remember that your procedures are intended to improve performance and resolve issues rather than just to punish people.
Start with the basics. Ensure that you are meeting your statutory and contractual requirements. There is no better way to guarantee a Tribunal claim then by not paying an employee properly. Similarly, make sure you provide a statement of main terms and conditions with evidence that it has been provided. This avoids any dispute over contractual terms and prevents an additional avoidable award of 2 or 4 weeks pay.
Be fair, reasonable and consistent. Many employers have the tendency to tolerate problems with staff until they suddenly decide that enough is enough and they want to dismiss. That is not going to be reasonable. Tackle any issues as soon as they arise so that your employees are fully aware of where they stand and the consequences of their actions.
Regularly review your recruitment and promotion procedures to make sure that they are fair and transparent. This helps to avoid any arguments of favouritism or discrimination. Update your equal opportunities procedure and review it with your employees so that they know this is an issue the company takes seriously and that they are expected to comply with it.
Deal with grievances quickly and fully. Employees need to know that the company culture supports the raising of issues and will thoroughly and fairly investigate any issues. Consider the employee’s perspective when in situations and make sure you avoid problems that could be resolved through clearer communication.
The Peninsula Advice Service is on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help you with any aspect of employment law. We have someone on the other end of the phone at all times, waiting to advise you every step of the way. Just call the Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.
While none of this will guarantee that you won’t have a tribunal claim it will reduce the likelihood of you losing one. The key points to remember are:
• Issue terms and conditions within 2 months
• Pay promptly and accurately
• Tackle issues as they arise
• Be consistent and reasonable
• Communicate fully
• Withhold payments that are due
• Ignore performance issues or grievances
• Bypass procedures
• Make decisions without investigating
• Create an uneven playing field
The Dos and Donts of Winning a Tribunal
July 15 2009