Business Law & Compliance

How to avoid employment tribunals

5 min read

19 November 2013

Over the past ten years there has been a dramatic increase in employment tribunals (ET), with single and accepted employment claims increasing from approximately 135,000 in 2001 to approximately 220,000 in 2011 - a rise of 63 per cent (Ministry of Justice figures).

Yet despite this rise, the majority of businesses do not have the appropriate infrastructure and processes to deal with employee grievances efficiently.  A failure to coordinate the process adequately can be a burden on both time and financial resources, regardless of whether the claim is successful or not. 

As a designer of HR software designed to minimise exposure to unpleasant tribunals, I’ve spent years trying to understand where things go wrong, and then creating processes to keep everything watertight. Here are my tips:

1. Ensure you mirror paper-solutions online

Employee relations tracking software have the ability to mirror the paper employment policies, allowing them to be broken down into logical and manageable steps. This is particularly pertinent, for instance when an employer has to complete an ET3 (an employers response to an ET), a form which needs to be dealt with within a 28-day timeframe.

2. Ensure to set up necessary alerts

Organisations need to create a new case each time an ET is received. The case opened will need to include all the details of the ET and will give the organisation a chance to upload all the associated documentation. Following the set-up of the case, the date of the letter can then be entered and the clock will begin a countdown of the 28 days of notice. By having all the details and documents in one central and secure repository, businesses always have continuity even in the event that someone from HR is not present.

3. Make use of the reminder emails

Most systems have a reminder email or SMS alert function that can be used to inform you of tasks due and when action needs to be taken. Using this function will ensure you don’t miss deadlines or waste money on costly extensions.

4. Be aware of all relevant documentation

Software of this kind can also be used to track, not just ET3 forms, but also any form relating to an employee relations case. For any policy or process that is definable or can be broken down into logical stages, we would recommending using this type of software to track and monitor progress within the required timeframes.

5. Increase compliance and visibility with all internal employment policies

When used correctly, employee relations software can offer a great insight into employee demographics associated with employee relations cases. For example, it can provide reports by case type and broken down by employee demographics too, which can be used to monitor and identify company-wide grievance trends, for instance with a specific gender or age group. .

6. Use the technology to be responsive and proactive

Employee relations software also has the power to assist HR in becoming more proactive to certain employment scenarios. For example, there might be an influx of grievances, that may have come from the same department or is linked to the same line manager. By having this level of information it can enable HR to try and intervene proactively and understand what the root cause is and, in effect, try to stop further grievances wherever possible.

7. Be fair to all employees

The benefits this type of software can bring can be huge for most organisations, but some benefits are lesser obvious than others. For example, if an organisation opts for an employee relations software to assist in the management of cases, HRs can expect to be supported at every stage of the pre-defined steps of a ER case, therefore all employers will be able to treat employees equally and fairly.

There are plenty of ways that an organisation can manage their employment tribunals, but the use of employee relations software is a simple and quick process to maximise efficiencies and prevent unnecessary costs. By following the above hints and tips, businesses will not only ensure they deal with ETs effectively, but they will also reduce the number of ETs in the long run too.

Andy Shettle is managing director of Workforce Metrics, one of the UK’s fastest growing employee relations software providers. 

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