Employment tribunals - keeping your business protected

With the recent changes in employment tribunal fee changes, we take a look at how small businesses can look to protect themselves.

David Quinn: BrightHR Social Media Manager

The recent employment tribunal fee ruling by the Supreme Court means employees who feel they have been unfairly treated by their employer will now be able to make a claim for free.

Previously, many employees will have been put off taking employers to tribunal due to the high associated costs. Before the fees were introduced, there were consistently around 50,000 unfair dismissal claims a year. After fees came in, this dropped to around 12,000 unfair dismissal claims per year. Claims in total fell from an average 197,000 per year to approx. 77,000 per year.

Whilst numbers are not expected to go back to these levels immediately, there will, of course, be a steady rise as employees start to bring tribunal claims against employers, both new and historic.   

Going off the above statistics, the chance of being taken to tribunal has more than doubled. But how do you protect yourself as a small business?

Put policies in place

Employers should ensure their employment practices are tight and leave no room for employees to argue they have been treated badly. To do this, businesses must have the correct policies in place.

But it’s more than just having the policy documents set up. Employers need to ensure employees know about such policies, that training on policies is provided, and recorded on a regular basis, and that your company ensures that any policy is being followed.

So, what policies should your business have in place? We would suggest the following as a starting point:

Keeping records

The most common reason for tribunals is unfair dismissal claims. Often allegations state there was no valid reason for dismissal and these claims are more likely to be successful if you don’t effectively record important employment information.

It is, therefore, more important than ever to keep your records up-to-date and ensure you are recording all relevant information which proves you have taken the correct steps. These could include policy training files as mentioned above, any return to work interviews, lateness instances and any disciplinary or performance warnings you may have to issue.

Let BrightHR help

At BrightHR we’re here to help take the hassle out of HR for small businesses, freeing up owners and managers to get on with the job of running their business.

When it comes to protecting your business against employment tribunals we can help in a number of ways:

Absence management: keep accurate and up-to-date records of employee absences, lateness, and sickness. This way you can spot any worrying trends before they turn into a problem and if the worst does happen you have the documentation to support you.

Document storage: Employee contracts, fit notes, appraisals, employee conduct warnings, disciplinaries, company policies. Store them all safely in the cloud in individual employee folders and you even access them on the go via our mobile app.

BrightEAP: Our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) gives your staff a way to cope with personal issues that can have a negative impact on their job performance, such as work-related stress or problems outside of the workplace.

Bright Advice: The UK-based experts at Bright Advice are just a phone call away, offering employment law advice and peace of mind to help you make the right decisions so your business is protected.

Request your free demo today and see how BrightHR can help protect your business against the threat of potential employment tribunals.


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If you are an existing customer or one of their employees please call 0800 783 2806 or email support@brighthr.com