When it comes to businesses and understanding employment law, there’s usually a lot of grey area. Employment law is incredibly complex, so it’s hardly surprising that many employers turn to lawyers who deal specifically with employment law or solicitors who handle employment tribunals to guide them through the facets of running a business legally, as well as protecting themselves and their employees.
Unfortunately, despite our efforts to ensure that our employees and their rights are handled with care and following legal guidelines, employment tribunals still occur. These can happen for a variety of reasons, including
- Unfair dismissal
- Discrimination – on multiple grounds including, race, gender, disability, gender reassignment, religion, sexual orientation
- Equal Pay
- Breach of Contract
- Working Hours
- Redundancy Pay
Interestingly, many employment tribunals can be easily avoided if employers take the necessary steps to protect their employees and themselves from the outset. Getting things wrong can cost your business not just in monetary terms, but also in your reputation and the loss of skilful and valued employees. Let’s explore some simple ways businesses can successfully avoid employment tribunal claims.
Get the employment contract right
This document is crucial. Without an employment contract, your business is already in legal hot water. This document should be received by your employee within 2 months of their employment. It contains important information such as business/employer information, their job title and description, pension arrangements, notice periods, working hours, disciplinary and grievance procedures, holiday entitlement, pay and other points.
When listing the employees’ duties and job title, it’s smart to be as broad as possible, as this means you have more flexibility as an employer should you need to make adjustments to roles later on. Additionally, speak with your employment law solicitors to review and implement robust policies and procedures. Ensure that these are available within the employee handbook.
Examine complaints promptly
If an employee raises a complaint, don’t stick your head in the sand. Moving quickly to investigate the claims is particularly important in cases that raise allegations of discrimination or bullying. Under the guidance of your employment law solicitors, work with the employee in question and ask them to bring you as much evidence as possible as well as statements from witnesses. Keep the employee with the grievance in the loop at all times.
Keep written records of everything
When it comes to legal proceedings, evidence is key. Every decision you make and every correspondence will need to be scrutinised and analysed by a legal team, therefore you must keep written records of everything that has happened, including your decisions and the actions you have taken, no matter how small. These records demonstrate that you have acted professionally and correctly throughout the grievance.
Heading to an employment tribunal is the last resort for a frustrated employee who believes they have been treated unfairly. With the right approach, you can find a positive solution to these grievances before they reach a court, or prevent them from occurring in the first place.