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Employment Tribunals in chaos, says director of Human Capital Department of King's Lynn

Employment Tribunal (ET) claims increased by 26 per cent last year, partly as a result of a ruling in the Supreme Court that means that there is no cost to making a claim.

Employees can engage solicitors or HR consultants on a “no-win, no-fee” basis who can adopt an adversarial approach and chase unrealistic claims. Employers can protect themselves by taking out ET insurance protection. We are thinking of offering this as part of our retained HR service, and I would be interested to know if employers would value this.

Meanwhile, the high volume of ET claims has resulted in long wait times before the preliminary hearing, and further delays, typically nine months at the moment, to a full hearing. In short the system needs fixing.

Peter Lawrence of Human Capital Department (43398563)
Peter Lawrence of Human Capital Department (43398563)

One solution would be for the ET to make “prima facie” decisions; is there sufficient evidence for cases to proceed? I recently attended a case where both the employer and employee lived overseas. Should this case have been heard in the UK?

Or in another instance the claimant was self-employed and claiming unpaid wages – in this case the ET does not have jurisdiction. Such cases could be dismissed by the clerk of the court before the case comes to court. The re-introduction of a fee when making a claim would also deter potentially bogus claims and something the government is considering.

We are currently working with several businesses in Lynn across East Anglia that have been struggling with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The shut down and re-opening has exposed firms lack of people management processes and systems.

The end is in sight with the vaccination programme, but poor employment practices still need to be addressed – firms must get the HR basics in place, such as contracts of employment, HR record keeping, staff policies and procedures including an employee handbook.

If employers don’t have the time or resources to do this work in-house, they should contact a reputable HR consultant.

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