E is for...

Employment Tribunals

E is for... 

As a HR Consultant I may occasionally bring out a scary monster.  Say hello to the Employment Tribunal (ET).  


As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to go to a Tribunal. It isn’t a pleasant experience.  


But what are they all about?


  • Employment tribunals are official courts that can hear more than 80 types of employment-related cases i.e. unfair dismissal, discrimination, unpaid wages etc. 


  • In the majority of cases the time limit for starting proceedings in the ET is three months from the date of the act complained of, or where dismissal is involved, three months from the effective date of termination.


  • Anyone wanting to bring a claim has to engage with ACAS in the first instance to try and settle the case (in order to reduce the numbers getting before a Judge).  This is called early conciliation.


  • If conciliation doesn't work or is declined, then the aggrieved person (the claimant) has to set our their reasons why in an ET1 form. 


  • The business then has the opportunity to respond using an ET3 form.


  • An employment judge reviews the initial paperwork and decides whether the case should proceed.


  • All of the relevant paperwork and witness statements need to be prepared in advance of the hearing. 


  • Non attendance at a Tribunal without notice and a very good reason isn't really optional.  It also needs to be approved in advance.


  • There is a right of appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) from a decision of the employment tribunal on a point of law only. An appeal cannot be lodged just because one of the parties is not happy with the Tribunal's decision. 


So as you can see there are quite a few stages to go through which = £££


This is your main reason for not wanting to go to an ET – it’s expensive.


ETs can also have a negative impact on your reputation as the Tribunal outcomes are public.


It also isn’t a lot of fun to have comments made in emails that you thought would never see the light of day read out in a Tribunal. 


 ***Big tip*** be really careful what you write in an email because it is disclosable under a Subject Access Request. 


A few years ago a Tribunal Judge asked a colleague ‘so Miss xxx, do you think it is professional to write in an email ‘he’s just getting his knickers in a twist’? Lesson learned there!!


The fact that they aren’t very nice doesn’t however mean you should shy away from tackling problems for fear of going to an ET. It is about a balancing act of being a fair employer (I keep coming back to this one), levels of risk and also actually running your business.


All of this ties in nicely with my next ‘E’.


External HR Consultants.  


If you think it is expensive paying an external HR consultant, wait until you see the solicitor’s fees for defending your ET claim!!


Running a small business means that you have to be a master of everything – finances, marketing, procurement, social media, admin and people management and that’s before you have even started selling your products/services.


Many businesses think 


a) they are too small to have HR support 


b) they can't afford the advice


c) they know what they are doing because you have read something online or have been given some advice by John down the pub 


d) they know and understand people so they don't need any help or 


e) they simply don’t want to bring HR into their business 


However, this often means that as an HR Consultant, I’m brought in when things have gone a bit wrong (or very wrong in some cases).


The ideal would be that I’m involved early so I can help you avoid things going wrong in the first place and believe it or not, this is a much cheaper way of doing things!!


So rather than thinking of me as an unnecessary evil where you can’t be yourself and you have to watch what you say because ‘HR is in the room', think of me as a helpful angel in disguise that WILL save you money.  


I have no intentions of coming in to tell you how to run your business. You know your people challenges but sometimes might need a bit of help.  


It can also be lonely being the boss so I can act as your confidante and your sounding board. I can help you make the tough decisions, not make you jump through lots of hoops and I can hold your hand through the process. 


Finally I can also offer some clarity. Sometimes we can get so absorbed in what we are doing that we can’t always take that step away to look back in. I can help you do that.


So try not to think about how much a HR Consultant will cost your business. Think about it in terms of how much value I can bring to your business and how much I can help you save.


PS I’d rather you say some of the inappropriate things in front of me as it means I don’t need to kick you under the table when you say them in front of the employee!! ????


Employee Handbook


No one likes to read policies.  


Whilst on one hand they can be helpful to set out expectations and details of what to do as an employee if they have a problem. On the other hand they are usually boring, no one reads them and target the 1% of your employees that may do something wrong rather than most of your workforce who will be fine.


I do think they have a place if done right. A better way to do it is having an employee handbook which brings to life your culture and ways of working, but also covers the compliance and essential policies required to keep your people and your organisation safe.


If this sounds more up your street then get in touch.


If you would like any more information on the E’s above let me know or if you have a question on the ones I didn’t cover


Employee Experience, Equalities Act

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