Latest government figures show that almost 18,000 claims were received by the Employment Tribunal Service from July to September last year. Claire Tait, Nina Holmes and Thea Cooks highlight common mistakes made by employers and offer advice on what you can do to ensure you don’t find your business responding to a tribunal claim this year.
Understandably, an employer’s focus is increasing performance in their business; but getting caught up in the strategic operation of business and losing focus on the importance of managing employee relations can be costly in the long run. Even more so, it’s frustrating when it is dealing with an employee lodging a tribunal claim about a situation that could have been managed better from the start.
Some employers overlook issues that may seem minor or trivial to avoid having difficult conversations or feeling that the issue is not a priority. However, putting minor issues at the bottom of your to do list may exacerbate a matter that could have been resolved with an initial, albeit difficult, conversation. This management style often creates negative cultures within an organisation.
Issues that arise in the form of inappropriate behaviour or comments described as ‘banter’, often become normalised if they are not addressed sooner, and can be extremely damaging to the culture of the workplace and affect relationships within a team. Turning a blind eye to comments can make it seem that such behaviour is tolerated, which can have a damaging impact on employee well-being, increase absence levels and employee turnover. This behaviour can often have an impact on other external stakeholders.
If you need to investigate specific inappropriate behaviour or undertake a wider cultural review of a team, then an investigation or deep dive review may be needed.
In many circumstances, investigations can be carried out whilst an employee is still working, and suspension is only advised when all other options have been explored. Suspending an employee without taking reasonable steps to avoid it could fracture the relationship between you and your employee, especially if this reaction is disproportionate to the allegation or if the employee is later found to have done nothing wrong.
Employers sometimes fall foul of not following a fair, reasonable and independent investigation procedure when investigating grievances, disciplinaries or whistleblowing complaints. Although they can be time consuming and require difficult conversations, following the process fully will help avoid mistakes which could be costly (financially and reputationally) if the employee later brings a claim to the tribunal.
Receiving a claim from the Employment Tribunal will not only be costly, but also has the potential to cause irreversible damage to the reputation of your business. Our team of experienced, independent, and impartial employment investigators can make sure your business has the appropriate policies, procedures and training in place to avoid defending a costly claim. We can provide hands on investigation support, review policies and procedures, deliver employee and management training and offer advice on how to handle even the most difficult employee issues.
The cost of getting it right from the start will always be less than the cost of getting it wrong.
Please call us for an initial chat on 0808 196 3151 or learn more here.