Supreme Court determination that employment tribunal fees are unlawful

The Employment Tribunal's decision to stop new employment tribunal cases, pending direction from the Ministry of Justice, will undoubtedly cause short-term uncertainty for both employers and employees. Here are three ways employers can stay out of court.
Whatever the outcome of this issue, if you are an employer you can be rest assured that any employment claim filed against you in the future will cause additional work and stress to you and your HR team, involve costs from instructing your lawyers (which you probably won’t recover), and has the potential for bad publicity too. Whether you opt to take the most cost effective route and settle out of court or proceed to a hearing, it is still going to cost your organisation in tangible and hidden costs. But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are plenty of measures you can take to reduce the chances of you becoming a respondent in employment tribunal claims going forward.
  • When was the last time your organisation commissioned an HR audit?
An audit is a comprehensive and methodical review of your human resources strategy, systems, processes and day to day employment practices conducted by an independent body. If the answer is ‘never’, or more than a year ago, you could very well be leaving your organisation wide open to an employment tribunal claim because you are not equipped to see it coming and tackle it quickly.
  • What management development programmes do you have in place and are they current and fit for purpose?
If your managers aren’t trained to manage staff, handle conflict, understand equality and diversity in the workplace and able to apply other basic management skills, they are unquestionably under equipped to lead and run your business.
  • Who conducts your investigations and handles grievance, discipline and appeals?
Very often, organisations rely on their internal human resources department, i.e. the people/person you hired to look after your staff. But who looks after them? It is important for employers to take the time to determine whether staff are current with their continuing professional development (CPD) and whether they are observably and objectively fair in their handling of staff issues. What is their approach to grievance and discipline handling? Is their default setting to reach for the formal procedures, or do they have a range of conflict handling and coaching skills they can and do deploy? These issues are very often overlooked by employers at their peril and can be responsible for the rapid descent of what was an avoidable or borderline discipline matter into a grievance, long-term sickness and employment tribunal case, leaving you the employer wondering how that happened?
Looking ahead, this matter serves as a reminder for employers to reflect upon the current needs of their organisation in terms of its relationship with its most important asset, its people. Through seeking assistance from an external HR consultancy and with minimal investment, it ought to be business as usual, whatever the long-term outcome of the MoJ's decision or the Supreme Court's decision.

Buzzacott HR Consultancy team are running a complimentary learning and development event on 21 September 2017, offering taster sessions on managing performance to obtain high performing teams, difficult conversations, managing change and difficult conversations. For more information or to sign up, please click here.
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