The complexity of employment law can make it hard for businesses to keep up with their responsibilities. Such is the ever-changing nature of the law, it can be difficult to know what you should be doing in order to make sure your company is protected against any legal action.
However, it is imperative that you do, as an employment solicitor representing an employee will quickly spot any gaps in your procedures. This could of course result in a great deal of expense for your business, as you are more likely to lose at an employment tribunal and have to pay compensation to that employee.
Common areas in which companies fail their employment law obligations
Disciplinary and dismissal procedures
Disciplining and dismissing employees is something that isn’t particularly palatable to think about, but nevertheless it is an important part of any business.
This is particularly so when it comes to dismissing a worker from your business. In order to be protected legally, you must be able to show that your company had a valid reason for choosing to dismiss them, while you also need to prove that the reason you have given is indeed the true cause of your action.
Furthermore, your disciplinary procedures must show that your company acted reasonably throughout the process, while there will also be statutory procedures you need to follow.
In setting out clear disciplinary guidelines for all your staff, you can protect yourself from unfair or constructive dismissal claims.
Having such guidelines is also useful for providing a standard of conduct that all your employees must adhere to. As they will read these rules before signing their contract, you are well protected in the event of any disciplinary action should they fail to follow them.
The Equality Act 2010 was put in place to ensure all employees are treated fairly at all stages of the employment process, including interview, appointment, performance appraisal, promotion, contract length and, of course, dismissal or redundancy.
The Act lists several ‘protected characteristics’, which are commonly cited by employees making discrimination claims. They are age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, religion, race, pregnancy and maternity, marital status and gender reassignment.
One of the most common kinds of discrimination claim stems from when an employee or job applicant feels they were treated less favourably as a result of them possessing one of these characteristics.
All businesses must know how to make sure they steer clear of discrimination claims. It could be the case that you are in danger of facing legal action without meaning to be, simply as a result of poorly drafted or out of date procedures.
Even with such systems in place, it also falls on your organisation to ensure these are implemented and adhered to.
Getting assistance from specialist employment solicitors will greatly increase your chances of remaining protected against employee claims. Their up-to-date knowledge can help them advise you on how to create procedures that comply with the law, while they can also highlight any areas where your company is weak in this regard.
If there is a specific case that your organisation is facing, they can also assist you in trying to secure a settlement or, if one cannot be agreed, they will represent you at an employment tribunal.