Employment Tribunal Fees Abolished – How can you protect your business?
The Supreme Court has decided that employment tribunal fees were unlawful and are abolished with immediate effect. Since fees were introduced in 2013 there had been a 70-80% drop in the number of tribunal claims. Employers should prepare for a reverse in that trend with the reversal of fees.
This comes at a time when the law is constantly changing and employers could be forgiven (although not by tribunals) for struggling to keep up. Only last week the Employment Appeal Tribunal confirmed that voluntary overtime should be included when employers are calculating holiday pay (in certain circumstances). The Employment Appeal Tribunal has also recently decided that employees and workers may be “working” during sleepover shifts and therefore entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for that “work”. Employers with 250 or more employees (and employees is widely defined) must publish their gender pay gap report before 5th April next year; and of course the General Data Protection Regulations come into force in May 2018 which will change the way that employers and HR teams can collect and handle employee’s personal data, with substantial fines (up to €20 million) if the rules are breached – employers should be preparing for both now.
As fees are scrapped, and the law evolves, a consultation has also been launched in relation to increasing the compensation bands in discrimination cases.
Against this backdrop, now seems like the perfect time for employers of all sizes and in all sectors to be reviewing their employment law and HR procedures to ensure compliance and protect their business (and reputation).
There are some simple ways that employers can ensure they are complying with their obligations, protecting their business, and mitigating the risks of potential employment tribunal claims.
Keep Up To Date
It is vitally important for employers to keep up to date with the law: from the latest National Minimum Wage rates and when the NMW should be paid; to how to calculate holiday pay; and the latest discrimination cases.
Our employment team produce regular updates which you can sign up to here. The team also run free bi-annual employment law update seminars, the next of which will be hosted in each of our three offices (Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee) in the autumn, and you can sign up for those here.
Employment Law and HR Training
Training for frontline managers and HR teams is essential to ensure an understanding of their responsibilities and can help managers and HR teams develop their experience in managing employment law and HR matters such as disciplinary, grievance, equality and diversity, performance and absence management processes.
We can provide bespoke and practical training for fixed fees and would be delighted to discuss our various training packages that are available.
Contracts and Policies
Employers are obliged to provide minimum written particulars to employees within 2 months of the start of their employment. More comprehensive contracts, policies and staff handbooks can also ensure that the employer is complying with various other legal obligations and can protect business interests. Well drafted and well communicated contracts and policies are also a good way to ensure that employers and employees know what is expected of them, can be a useful tool for employers to facilitate a happy and productive workforce, and can help avoid disputes and costly litigation
Recent tribunal and court decisions involving companies such as Uber and Pimlico Plumbers have found that individuals who were engaged under contracts designed to create a self-employment relationship were in fact workers and therefore entitled to certain basic employment rights (such as NMW, holiday pay, and discrimination protections). It is more important than ever for organisations to ensure that contracts are well drafted and that the correct contract is used for the correct arrangement.
MacRoberts can provide a basic statement of employment particulars compliant with the statutory minimum requirements. We can also provide more comprehensive template contracts of employment, or bespoke contracts tailored to suit your organisation’s needs.
We can also provide various compliant employment law and HR policies, such as: Dismissal and Disciplinary; Grievance; Equal Opportunities; Family Friendly Policies; Sickness Absence Management and Whistleblowing. Please contact us for a full list of policies, or a staff handbook.
We can provide contracts and policies for fixed fees.
MacRoberts’ employment team is one of the longest-established specialist teams in Scotland and has years of experience providing tailored, proactive and commercial advice to clients across a wide range of sectors. We have retainer arrangements, and employment law and HR advice lines, which have helped to protect clients over a number of years.
Legal Fees Insurance
We can provide information about competitive legal expenses insurance for the cost of Employment Tribunal claims.
Preparing now through a combination of some or all of the above, can help to reduce risks, disputes and costs later, particularly in light of recent developments in the law.
For more information about any of the above, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 0141 303 1100 and ask to speak to a member of the employment team.