Posted on: 05 August 2019

Insight from HR experts Citation

If you have an employee who feels that they have been subject to unfair dismissal, discrimination or unfair deductions from pay, among other things, you may have to attend an employment tribunal.

Premierline have partnered with HR specialists, Citation, to bring you guidance on tribunals and potential outcomes if you ever need to attend one as an employer.

Guidance from Citation:

Prevention is better than cure

As an employer, there are many things that you can do to proactively avoid a claim being brought against you by an employee. As a start, it’s vital that you have a legally sound employee handbook, robust contracts of employment, and a well laid-out disciplinary and grievance procedure.

It’s also beneficial to have third-party HR support, so that you can always ask questions as and when you have them which can help prevent smaller issues escalating into larger ones.

Early conciliation

Following a disciplinary and grievance process with an employee, some employers choose to use the Acas early conciliation service, to help avoid having to attend court. This would involve a professional assisting as both parties discuss their grievances.  

Applying for the early conciliation certificate can affect the time limits when an employee can lodge a claim, which is usually within three months of being dismissed.

Employment tribunal costs for the employer

The pay-out for successful claims can vary considerably depending on the nature of the case.

The Ministry of Justice released their 2017/18 breakdown of awards made by tribunals for unfair dismissals and discrimination claims.

The maximum and average awards for that period were:

  • Unfair dismissal claim: £415,227 and £15,007
  • Race discrimination: £124,979 and £24,322
  • Sex discrimination: £36,616 and £13,212
  • Disability discrimination: £242,130 and £30,698
  • Religious discrimination: £6,846 and £5,074.
  • Sexual orientation discrimination: £24,100 and £12,550
  • Age discrimination: £10,432 and £6,796

Employment tribunal penalties

The financial impact doesn’t end with awards won by claimants. If employers are found to have breached an employee’s rights where there are ‘one or more aggravating features’, they can enforce more penalties on the employer. The minimum penalty is £100 and the maximum is £5,000 with the  50% of the compensation awarded to the employee. Employers will have a 50% discount providing they pay the penalty within 21 days of the tribunal’s decision.

Examples of grounds for appeal

If an employer disagrees with a tribunal’s decision, they may be able to lodge an appeal to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), an independent tribunal for cases in England, Wales and Scotland.

Examples of grounds for appeal:

  • The tribunal got the law wrong
  • The tribunal didn’t apply the correct law
  • The tribunal didn’t have evidence to support their decision
  • The correct procedures – that could’ve affected the decision – weren’t followed
  • The tribunal’s decision was unfairly biased towards the other party

Scrapping of employment tribunal fees

The Supreme Court found that the system of employment tribunal fees was preventing access to justice, with the number of claims dropping by around 70%. The fees were also found to be unlawful.

The fees were first introduced in July 2013, to encourage early settlement of disputes and discouraging weak or vexatious claims.

These fees meant employees could be required to pay up to £1,200 to fight their case in a tribunal, which often meant that the financial rewards available from winning didn’t justify the cash injection required to cover the employment tribunal fees.

Employment tribunals have since returned to a pre-July 2013 system and steps were taken to refund those who paid fees since its introduction, estimated to be £32 million.

Commenting on the decision to scrap employment tribunal fees, Gillian McAteer, Head of Employment Law Advice at Citation, commented: “This decision has caused alarm for employers who are concerned that the huge reduction in claims experienced after the introduction of fees will now be met with a corresponding increase in claims, at a time when there is already so much uncertainty for business owners surrounding the impact of Brexit”.

About Citation

From creating legally sound contracts, handbooks and policies, to providing 24/7 access to HR professionals and a wealth of online resource and tools, they’ve been a trusted advisor to over 35,000 businesses since 1996.

Clients of Citation, are 10 times less likely to face an employment tribunal compared to the UK average

As a Premierline customer, you’re also entitled to a 10% discount off their services. Click here to find out more about how they can support your business.

If you’ve got any HR & Employment Law questions, however big or small, speak to a Citation advisor today and call 0345 844 1111.

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The information and tools contained in this guide are of a general informational nature and should not be relied upon as being suitable for any specific set of circumstances. We have used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents but the information and tools do not constitute professional advice and must not be relied upon as such. To the extent permitted by law, we do not accept responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information or tools in our Insight Hub.