Employment tribunals can be a daunting and costly experience for businesses. They are designed to handle disputes between employees and their employers, and they can result in fines, compensation payouts, and significant damage to a company’s reputation.
So, whether you’re a business owner, or you work in upper management, you should be aware of the risks and know what to do to avoid ending up in an employment tribunal.
In this guide, we’ll be discussing the key steps that employers must take to ensure that their employees are treated fairly and that their rights are protected – read on to find out more.
Know Your Legal Obligations
As an employer, one of your biggest responsibilities is knowing and understanding your legal obligations to your employees. This includes having awareness of the minimum wage, legal working hours, health and safety legislation, and discrimination laws.
Make sure you have a clear understanding of your obligations and that you are complying with them at all times.
Remember, legislation can change frequently, so you should have procedures in place to help you keep track of any changes and ensure that new information is distributed across the wider organization where necessary.
Provide Clear Contracts
Providing your employees with clear and comprehensive contracts is essential if you’re trying to avoid an employment tribunal claim.
Contracts should be given to all employees ahead of their start date and should detail their job role, pay, working hours, and any other relevant information.
This will ensure that both you and your employees are aware of what is expected of them and will prevent any misunderstandings in the future – every year there are over 100,000 employment tribunals, many of which could be avoided if employers weren’t in breach of an employee’s contract!
Treat All Employees Fairly
Once an employee has started in their new role, it’s vital that they are treated equally to all of their colleagues. Treating all employees fairly is an essential element when it comes to avoiding employment tribunal claims, as discrimination or harassment in any form is unacceptable and could lead to a claim being made against your company.
Be sure to have policies and procedures in place to prevent this from happening and take swift action if it does – the best companies are those that create a fair and enjoyable place to work for everyone.
A good way to encourage the fair treatment of employees is through an ‘open-door’ policy, which will encourage your staff to come forward with any concerns or grievances they may have as soon as an issue arises.
This will help to prevent small problems from escalating into more significant challenges that could lead to an employment tribunal claim. Be sure to handle any complaints seriously and follow the correct procedures to resolve them.
Provide Comprehensive Training
Training is one of the first things you should put in place for new employees, and it should cover all areas of your business, as well as your expectations – teaching your employees your policies and procedures can go a long way in preventing employment tribunal claims.
This includes providing training on discrimination and harassment, health and safety, and disciplinary procedures. Not only will this help to prevent any breaches of company policy, but it will also show your employees that you take their well-being and safety seriously.
Follow Disciplinary Procedures
It’s also essential that you have a clear and consistent disciplinary procedure in place that you follow in the event of any breaches of company policy.
This should be communicated to your employees, so they are aware of the consequences of their actions and know where to turn if they have a problem. Remember, it’s important to follow these procedures fairly and consistently to avoid any claims of unfair dismissal.
Keep Accurate Records
It’s crucial that you keep accurate records of your employees’ working hours, pay, and any disciplinary action taken. These records should be kept up to date and easily accessible, as they will help you to provide evidence if an employee does make a claim.
If you don’t have a large HR department, or your teams are busy working across a number of areas, then it might be time to consider outsourcing your HR functions to a Bristol HR Consultant – outsourcing is an effective way of managing your workload, and it means you’ll never need to worry about the accuracy of your record keeping.
Outsourced HR can come with a range of other benefits too – experienced professionals will have the best understanding of employment law, and they can advise you on your legal obligations to help you avoid any potential tribunal claims.
If a dispute does arise, they can also provide accurate guidance on the correct procedures to follow.
If you do receive a complaint or grievance from an employee, it’s important to act quickly – delaying action could lead to the situation escalating, making it more difficult to resolve and leaving a negative impression on the courts.
Be sure to follow correct procedures, investigate the matter thoroughly, and seek legal advice as soon as possible if an employee does raise a claim so that you are seen to be wilfully working towards a resolution.
Avoiding employment tribunal claims requires employers to take a proactive approach to their legal obligations and ensure that their employees are treated fairly and equally, but it doesn’t need to be complicated.
By following this guide and outsourcing your HR functions where needed, you can ensure that your business has appropriate procedures in place designed to put your employees first and support your business in the best way possible if a tribunal claim does arise.