The Ministry of Justice’s online tribunal database has gone live. From today, all future employment tribunal decisions will be uploaded to the government website—some judgments from 2016 are already available. This database allows anyone to access first instance decisions. Previously, anyone wanting to see employment tribunal judgments had to either buy a judgment by mail order or visit an office in Bury St Edmunds or Glasgow. The new website allows visitors to search the database by name, date, judge, jurisdiction code or free text. Public exposure The placing of judgments in the public domain increases access to justice. However, there are negatives to this public exposure which employers may not yet be aware of. This database allows anyone to view judgments that often contain large amounts of detail about the business and its working practices. Where employers have lost a tribunal, it’s common for the judgment to be critical of the business, and that will now be easily accessible—most notably to future job applicants. Consequences Job seekers can search prospective employers to see their tribunal history and can make decisions about whether to apply for the role using this information. Another possible consequence is that current employees can also access the database and search against their employer. This could lead to knock on claims or even threats to take employers to a tribunal for similar issues, as employees try to benefit financially. In cases where the employer is heavily criticised, they might find themselves headline news if reporters trawl through a large number of judgments to find an interesting employment law story. Perfect practices While access to justice is a must for the public, the potential for reputational damage to businesses is high. It’s more important than ever for employers to perfect their employment practices and apply the correct rights to staff to ensure they’re not ending up in front of a tribunal.
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