It’s no wonder that some people are referring to yesterday as the ‘biggest day for employment law’.
Since 2013, employees have had to pay fees of up to £1,200 to take their employer to tribunal, which led to a reduction of around 70% in the number of claims being lodged.
It could be said, therefore, that employers have been able to take a more robust approach to employee relations due to there being a reduced risk of a claim being made!
The scrapping has been seen as a major victory; from 2013 to now, employees who had been mistreated in the workplace couldn’t afford a tribunal, and their access to justice was therefore hindered.
But in the meantime and since the legislation was put in place in 2013, what has happened to our internal HR process compliance? Have they been loosened, or in some cases been ignored altogether? Have employers got a little too comfortable, complacent, or even cavalier, knowing that their employees were unlikely to be able to reach out for legal help if they needed it?
It’s important that employers be aware that those who were unable to initiate a case may be more likely to come forward with historic claims due to this change in legislation and the massive reduction in cases may now be reversed – we could see an immediate increase to the levels seen previously.
So, the question is, what should we do? How do we make sure that HR compliance and people management standards are up to scratch and ready for the likely, forecasted increase in tribunal claims in the next year and beyond?
1. Think of it as a positive. Employers should view this development as a ‘win’, even though it may bring about some complications too. The new legislation gives us the opportunity to re-evaluate our line managers’ leadership styles, find the pain points which may have gone overlooked, eradicate them and ensure HR best practice is delivered in consistent and compliant ways.
2. Once those standards have been set (or re-set as the case may be) the automation of HR processes will be the next step towards ensuring HR best practice, in terms of protecting companies against compliance risks. Moving forward, we’re all going to have to increase our compliance levels in an attempt to protect our companies – and to protect our staff as well – and the best way to do this is to keep consistency throughout your company.
3. Communication with employees encourages and engenders trust. Being open, honest and transparent will go a long way in terms of building trust, and it is important to make sure that employees feel that their voices are being heard.
As Mike Hibbs, employment law partner at Shakespeare Martineau, rightly points out ‘HR departments need to be more active than ever in promoting positive and good relations with employees to avoid the reputational risks, time and cost of tribunal claims’.
It’s time to take action in order to keep your company safe and your employees happy and well – whether your HR standards have slipped a little since 2013 or not, we can all view this as an opportunity to refresh our line managers and promote healthier HR practice.
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