Employment Tribunal risks still rising

In the first full quarter since fees were abolished last year, the number of single Employment Tribunal claims has leapt 90 per cent, according to an article in People Management. We provide some tips for reducing your risks.

Holiday pay

Claims for holiday pay are on the increase. Employees with variable earnings can also lead to confusion, and hence claims, and so can “self employed” with regular hours. Make sure you are clear what employees are liable to receive rather than face a trivial, or in some cases, very expensive, claim going back years.

Send out the right messages

Documents set out in legal jargon, or even Employee Handbooks in the same genre, send out the message that you don’t trust people. If so, why in turn should they trust you?

Follow procedures closely but fairly

Aggrieved employees, especially ex-employees, have an excellent weapon to create grief. The typical legal cost of defending claims is now over £10,000 and that is not counting the costs of distraction arising from time taken from running your business. With no fee required to file a claims, spurious claims are on the increase as we have seen at Employer Solutions. Taking care to ensure employees can see that they are being treated fairly is the key to avoiding most spurious claims.

Minimise the gender pay gap

Few Tribunal cases are more costly that those based on equal pay and with the pay gap recently in the spotlight more claims are likely. Invariably these are multi-day, complex cases and therefore expensive. If men and women are on different pay scales make sure that there is a genuine material reason for the disparity that the lesser paid party can understand.

Watch for discrimination

These too are expensive claims to receive. Disputes over promotion (or non-promotion) can give rise to claims as can harassment and other forms of discriminatory behaviour. Sound internal policies, that employees trust and rigorous use of fair procedures, will enable an employer to tackle most emerging problems before they become serious.

Malcolm Martin FCIPD

Author Human Resource Practice

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