How to solve problems at work: everything an employer needs to know about employment tribunals
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We spend much of our lives in the workplace, so it’s not surprising when occasionally a conflict arises that we don’t know how to resolve.
According to Lloyd Clarke, a partner at Attwells Solicitors in Ipswich, there’s no need for business owners to despair if a workplace dispute arises. He says: “With proper legal advice you can protect your business and easily create a safe, pleasant working environment for your staff.”
Below Lloyd reveals what to do if an employer receives an Employment Tribunal claim from a former or current staff member.
Q: What is an employment tribunal?
A: The employment tribunal makes legal decisions about workplace disputes. Anyone that feels they have been unlawfully treated at work can make a claim. Common claims involve allegations of unfair dismissal and racial, sexual, religious or disability discrimination.
Claims are either heard by a judge sitting alone or, for the most complex claims, a panel of three. The panel is usually made up of a trade union representative, an employer or member of a trade organisation and a legally qualified judge. They gather to hear each party make their argument and decide on whether the claim should be successful or not.
Q: What should an employer do if an employee has made a claim to the employment tribunal?
A: My advice is to seek professional legal help as soon as you can. An employer has 28 days to respond to a claim once it has been submitted to the employment tribunal. We can talk you through every step of the process, test the strength of your defence, advise the best course of action and help you draft a robust response to the claim, laying the foundations for a successful defence.
Q: What happens if I don’t respond to an employment tribunal claim?
A: If you don’t respond in time to the claim, or if you attempt to draft a response yourself and make a mistake, then you could end up making matters worse. It could result in you needing to pay out thousands in compensation, harm your business’ reputation and affect your goals for the future. It could also result in you incurring much more time and cost than would otherwise have been the case.
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Q: Is it worth seeking professional legal advice for workplace disputes?
A: Absolutely. We’ll talk you through every stage of the legal process and offer our support. Our experienced employment lawyers, proficient in arguing such cases, will review your potential claim and advise you of its strengths and weaknesses. This way you can ensure you have a good defence and that a claim is worth pursuing.
Presently it takes around one to two years for a claim to reach a final outcome in the employment tribunal proceedings, so settling a case before it reaches a final hearing can be in both parties’ best interests. It can help save you time, money and stress. We have a proven track record of negotiating favourable settlements for our clients, protecting their best interests and achieving the best possible outcome for them.
Q: Why should SMEs consider setting up an employment law or HR retainer?
A: Many SMEs are unlikely to have a legal department of their own. Setting up a monthly retainer service ensures you have permanent access to an employment law solicitor. You can contact us anytime for instant expert legal advice.
We take care of everything for you and give you all the paperwork and legal advice necessary to ensure your business runs smoothly and you don’t fall foul of ever-changing employment law. With a monthly subscription, you will also have access to our online legal portal where you can find contracts, handbooks, and legal materials, essential for running a successful business.
Many people also incorrectly assume that legal services cost a lot, but by paying a small monthly fee, you can set a budget and stick to it. No matter how many times you pick up the phone or drop us an email, the cost remains the same.
Q: Why contact Attwells Solicitors for help with your employment tribunal claim?
A: We offer a free consultation. We will review your case and provide bespoke legal advice. All costs will be clearly outlined in advance to help you decide if you want to pursue the claim, and our plain English approach to complex legal jargon makes it easy for you to access the information you need and make an informed decision.
We’re not a traditional law firm and we pride ourselves on the personal, friendly and open service we provide. Our employment law team is here to help, so no matter what comes your way, you’re prepared to handle it.
To find out more, visit attwells.com or call the Ipswich office on 01473 229 200.