Unfair dismissal tribunals can be a real drain on employers’ resources and their reputations.
They can cause huge amounts of stress to the employers involved and cost them a fair amount of money if they lose. However, if employers go about their business in the right way, the risk of them losing these sorts of claims are relatively small. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Set the rules early
Employers can save themselves a lot of hassle by setting clear boundaries at the start of any employment agreement. Staff contracts should set out a company’s expectations of behaviour and clarify what will happen should these standards not be met. It would be hard for an employee to appeal against a process which they signed and agreed was OK.
Those with solid facts backing up their decision to release an employee should find it easier to prove it was fair. A lot of businesses invest in HR software which can accurately measure time and attendance, productivity, etc. for these reasons. Managers should keep tight records of all correspondence with a staff member regarding a certain issue to prove that they have followed the correct disciplinary procedure.
A lot of unfair dismissal claims come from a belief that an employee has been treated differently to the rest of the payroll. They might claim they have been discriminated against because of their race, gender, beliefs etc. The best way to avoid being found guilty of such practices is to ensure consistency with disciplinary procedures.
HR software like those mentioned above can be a great tool to help with this. Time and attendance software, for example, could let employers compare a staff member’s punctuality with everyone else’s, preventing them from sacking someone who’s not even setting the worst example.
Those who show that they have taken reasonable steps to resolve an issue with their employee, followed the correct dismissal procedure and have acted without malice will normally be sided with by an employment tribunal. These tribunals are encouraged to adopt a healthy respect for managerial prerogative.
The four major ‘fair’ reasons for dismissing an employee include conduct, capability, legality and redundancy. Those who can prove that the dismissal was for one of these reasons should have very little to worry about.
There is a huge list of grounds for ‘unfair dismissal’ which employers should know like the back of their hand. These include asking for flexible hours, taking jury service, applying for maternity leave, whistle-blowing or refusing to give up their legal employee rights. Those who dismiss an employee for these reasons are unlikely to have a leg to stand on.
In 2013, the maximum compensation for being unfairly dismissed was capped at a year’s salary. For a small business, this could be potentially crippling, so it is certainly worth treating your employees fairly, if only for financial reasons!
Investing in time and attendance software or other similar HR solutions could end up saving a business from one of these huge fines.