Why do employers find themselves in the Employment Tribunal?

However, these statistics do not show the whole story because experience “on the ground” suggests that employees don’t generally bring claims simply because an employment right has been infringed; most are wary of making their working lives difficult, damaging working relationships and increasing anxiety and stress, even if they win and many assume they will not. What seems to prompt employees to complain, threaten and ultimately bring claims is something that persuades an employee that the risks to career and livelihood are outweighed by the anxiety and unhappiness at allowing the status quo to continue.

Poor performance management

Poor performance management can affect employees in two main ways. First, almost every survey confirms that employees resent underperforming employees not being properly dealt with. It is demotivating, increases workloads and stress and can affect employee engagement. Second, poor performers themselves learn of the issues when it is too late to improve. Most poor performers lack awareness of their own shortcomings and this problem is exacerbated when managers avoid difficult issues at appraisal time.

This also means performance problems are not reflected on the record and it is easier to allege some ulterior motive for employer action. Unless a process is followed which makes clear the company’s performance expectations, a belated attempt to deal with the problem will likely be met with resentment and give the appearance of a contrived dismissal, with some legal arguments in support.

Read more about employment tribunals:

Poor change management

Changes in the workplace, whether restructuring, redundancy, new personnel or methods of work can create uncertainty and insecurity amongst employees. Insecurity in a workforce can affect employee engagement, trust in management, stress and anxiety and can lead to workplace conflict. These are all factors that contribute to employee complaints and claims.

Individual or collective consultation processes are designed to protect employee rights. Unfortunately, many employers treat these processes with suspicion, fearing they will lose control over employee reaction and increase the risk of claims. In fact, a greater reliance on employee consultation at times of change can assist rather than hinder the management of employee reaction and expectations and allay fear and uncertainty. This can also demonstrate leadership and control and enable employers to put across to employees the positive reasons for and effects of proposed change. Together these factors can reduce the risk of claims.

Read more about how businesses are failing to involve HR.

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