Any employer who employs staff may at one time or another run the risk of having a tribunal claim made against them. While it is not possible to always prevent a claim, there are a number of things an employer can put in place to help significantly reduce the risk of an employment tribunal claim. We explore five of the most effective ones
An employee handbook provides the employer with the opportunity to set out the main rules and expectations that the company has of its employees. An employment tribunal claim can often arise as a result of a lack of clarity between the employee and employer about the company rules. An employee handbook helps set out what is and what isn’t acceptable behaviour and also the consequences if rules in the workplace are not followed.
Contract of employment
The law requires that anyone employed by an organisation must be presented with a written statement of particulars, often referred to as an employment contract. The contract must be issued within 8 weeks of the person’s employment with the company.
Although it is important to have a contract of employment. It is also important to make sure that the contract accurately sets out the main terms of the employment relationship.
Employers should seek the services of an employment law professional to make sure all the relevant clauses are included in the contract. Doing so will help minimise the risk of misunderstandings
Clear HR policies
It is not enough to just have relevant HR policies and procedures in place. The company must also ensure that the policies are well publicised and written in such a way that there is little room for ambiguity. A poorly written policy can often lead to staff or manager being unclear on what is required of them. This can lead to conflict arising which may sometimes then lead to employment tribunal claims being lodged against the company. Should the matter escalate to an employment tribunal, if the tribunal determines the employers policy is poorly written and therefore open to interpretation; the employment tribunal is more likely to find in favour of the employee.
One of causes of employment disputes is poor or limited communication. In order for staff to feel part of the company they need to know that they can speak with someone in authority if they have concerns. Good communication also goes some way to boosting morale and productivity. Communication can take many forms, from one to one meetings, team meetings as well as all company meetings. Companies should also make sure that there are formal and informal communication tools such as an internet, notice boards and group emails.
Fair pay and grading
One of the most common causes of employment tribunal claims is disputes over pay and grading. There is legislation such as the equal pay Act which provides that employers must offer fair and equal pay to men and women carrying out work of equal value. Research however shows that several companies pay on average more to men than their female counterparts for work of equal value. In addition the challenges around gender, companies must also ensure that their pay rates meet with legislation such as the minimum wage. Paying employees below the governments minimum wage can lead the company facing challenges from its employees and greatly increases the chances of employment tribunal claims.
In order to ensure your company has the correct tools and processes in place, companies should have annual reviews of their policies and procedures by an employment professional. This will help minimise the chances of employment tribunal claims being brought against the company.