Ministers have vowed to overturn employment tribunal fees, after it was ruled they were an obstruction to the public’s ‘access to justice’ – preventing victims from bringing a claim against an offending organisation due to the high legal costs.

This is likely to mean there will be a rise in the number of cases brought against UK businesses, as individuals adopt a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude with regards to pursuing legal action.

Individuals who feel as though they have been unfairly dismissed or discriminated against no longer face any financial implications when it comes to raising a claim against an organisation, so employers must be pro-active and pragmatic to protect themselves.

Record for protection

Most of the time, organisations can avoid claims being brought against them by thoroughly briefing those who are conducting the interview or meeting to adhere to relevant company policy.

One of the best ways to avoid such issues is to introduce recordings as standard practice when it comes to disciplinary meetings or interviews.  

It is best practice to remind all involved parties that an interview or meeting is being recorded from start to finish, as this can encourage individuals to keep their feelings in check, behaving in a way that will not land them in hot water further down the line.

Remember, recordings protect individuals on both sides, so it is important that whoever represents your business keeps their cool even in the face of provocation.

Record and stay neutral

Another common complaint in these situations is that a business failed to keep an open mind during proceedings.

Recordings not only capture every word, but they also show tone of voice, which can be a critical factor in deciding whether an organisation dealt with a situation reasonably.

Pressing record can also help achieve 100% accuracy when it comes to taking down every detail, which can prove invaluable in situations where discussions are quick and intense, so manual note taking becomes more difficult.

Get up to speed with recording

Not only do recordings remove the need for a dedicated note taker, but they also eliminate the necessity for multiple rounds of checks and amendments.

Complete, first-time accuracy means that all parties can receive a copy of the meeting’s notes quickly, without having to wait days or weeks for approval.

Recordings also defend against another common complaint that an organisation failed to give the individual adequate time to express their opinion.

Not only do recordings capture speech, but they also pick up the times when no one is talking, which can be important when debunking claims that an employer dominated discussions.

Go digital to dictate

Smaller businesses should find that digital dictation machines, or dictation apps for Smartphones and tablets, will suffice for the small number of one-on-one personnel meetings they are likely to undertake.

For larger organisations, with an expectation of more such interviews, often with numerous attendees, transcription service providers can supply conference-style recording equipment, with multiple microphones.

Use the best and get a certificate

The best external service providers, well-versed in the process of transcribing hearings and interviews, will provide a certificate of accurate representation with the transcription.

This certifies the transcription is a faithful reproduction of the sound file, using verbatim transcription that includes all the ‘umms’ and ‘errs’ that have a direct effect on the flow and meaning of the conversations being recorded.

Unlike more traditional transcriptions of dictation where the skilled typist excludes mistakes and hesitations, in interview transcriptions, any omissions may inadvertently affect the intended meaning of any spoken response.

Failing to keep accurate records of an interview can cause problems at an appeal stage or if a case proceeds to an employment tribunal.

Having access to an accurate transcription of any interview, a certificate of accurate representation and the original recording, will significantly reduce any assertion that accurate records were not kept.

Any tribunal will appreciate the ability to listen to a recording of any interview, if it offers insight into the detail or emotions of the individuals involved.

Serious business

It is important that businesses do not look at disciplinary meetings negatively – such proceedings can be beneficial for your company as you can quickly resolve ongoing issues without the spread of workplace gossip.

By introducing company policy that requires meetings and interviews to be properly recorded, you are showing your employees that you take their rights seriously, and all protective measures are in place.

External transcription service providers might be regarded as an unwarranted expense when most organisations are looking to cut costs, but just how much might the accusation an organisation acted inappropriately cost in the long run?

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