Employment Claims Drop

Employment related claims against employer’s such as unfair dismissal has almost halved with figures showing that there has been a drop in such claims by 55%. This fall in the number of claims is said to be due to the introduction of the tribunal fees of last summer according to many law firms. They beleive the sharp drop of claims brought is a reflection of the  charges which are imposed for the applications and attending a hearing. It is also believed that the decline is a reflection of the surge of claims which were filed in order to beat the fee introduction.

If you wish to bring a claim the standard fee for lodging the claim is £160 and £260 for a tribunal hearing regarding basic claims. There are however a set of higher fees which have been introduced for employed who wish to challenge their dismissal on the ground of unfair dismissal, racial or sexual discrimination in the work place as well as whistleblowing. Such claims face a charge of £250 to file a claim and a staggering £950 in order for the hearing to take place.

The Ministry of Justice believe that the Employment Tribunal Service charges are due to save millions of pounds a year. This is however disputed by Unison who launched a judicial review procedure which challenges the legality of the charges which is set to be resolved by a judgement by the high court.

Head of employment law at specialist law firm Hugh James, Emma Burns, stated that there is currently a great level of uncertainty as to the extent of the legality of the fees introduced. The result of a judgement pronounce the fees ultra vires (unlawful) is likely to be followed by a wave of employment claims of ex-employees pursuing claims against their employers.

Prolonged work related disputes can have detrimental financial effect on both the worker and the employer court fees and legal representation often staggers up to astronomical amounts pretty quickly. The introduction of the fees are even more of a reason for employers and ex-employees to reconsider and think carefully prior to launching a claim of whether the risk justifies that pursued cause. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice reveal that the number of claims accepted by the Employment Tribunal Service dropped by 55% in August down from 17,153 in July.

Recruitment & Employment Contracts

Recruitment

An efficient recruitment process usually begins with a lot of careful planning on how candidates will be assessed. It is important for all candidates to be made aware of the specific requirements, qualifications and skills that are required for the position. This will ensure that more candidates, who do apply, are actually suitable for the role. All of this can be made very clear by writing a detailed job description as part of the advert for the vacancy. Avoid discrimination in any form. When successful candidates have been short listed, it is recommended to invite them for interviews. This will allow you to make a better judgement based on character.

Employment Contracts

After selecting the candidate that will take the job, it is highly advisable to get them to sign a written contract that clarifies employment terms, probation details and the employee’s entitlements. Employees are entitled to the minimum wage, paternity/maternity leave and sick pay etc. However, a contract may offer the employee more than their legal entitlements. To avoid any disputes, the written contract of employment must match with the criteria set in the job description and anything told to the employee during an interview.

Tips

A written statement of employments must be issued within 2 months of the employee being employed. The statement must include details such a pay, holiday entitlement and working hours.

From the beginning of the process, it is sensible to consult a legal expert to make sure that all contracts and terms are legal, and that all legal entitlements are met.  If there are any employment benefits, clarify with the employee that they may not be entitlements but are subject to discretion if that is the case.  Most employers also have separate employee handbooks that detail health and safety arrangements, company policy, grievance procedures and the discipline code.