The Supreme Court has ruled employment tribunal fees unlawful and has, consequently, scrapped them. This ruling means that employees who feel that they have been treated unfairly by their employer will now be able to make a claim for free.
Previously, the expensive costs associated with taking an employer to a tribunal acted as a deterrent to many employees who could not afford the expense. Before the fees were introduced, there were consistently around 50,000 unfair dismissal claims a year. After fees came in, this number dropped to around 12,000 unfair dismissal claims per year. Claims in total fell from an average of 197,000 per year to approx. 77,000 per year.
While numbers are not expected to return to these levels immediately, there will be a steady rise as more and more employees begin to bring tribunal claims against employers, both new and historic.
Going off the above statistics, the chances of being taken to a tribunal have more than doubled.
But how do you protect yourself as a small business?
Put policies in place
Employers should ensure that their employment practices are watertight, and leave no room for employees to argue that they have been mistreated. To do this, businesses must have the correct policies in place.
But good protection is more than just having the policy documents set up. Employers need to ensure that employees know about such policies, that training on policies is provided and recorded on a regular basis, and that your employees adhere to all policies.
So, what policies should your business have in place? We suggest the following as starting points:
- [Absence, sickness, lateness, and leave](https://www.brighthr.com/articles/leave-and-absence/
- Health and Safety
- Equal opportunities and discrimination
- Social media and device usage
- Disciplinary and grievance
- Dismissal and end of contract
The most common reason for tribunals is unfair dismissal claims. Often, allegations state that there was no valid reason for dismissal, and these claims are more likely to be successful if you do not record important employment information.
It is, therefore, critical to keep your records up-to-date and to ensure that you are recording all relevant information to prove that you have taken the correct steps. These could include policy training files as mentioned above, return-to-work interviews, lateness instances, and any disciplinary or performance warnings you might 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 several 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 can 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—which can have a negative impact on their job performance—such as work-related stress or problems outside 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 to protect your business.