A guide to avoiding nasty employment tribunal cases.
1. Talk To Your Staff
Keep lines of communication open. Resolve discipline issues informally where you can – don’t let matters escalate. An informal chat can often stop an issue becoming an employment tribunal case.
2. Adopt Fair Company Rules And Procedures
Put your rules and procedures in writing in a staff handbook. Make sure your staff know what is expected of them at work and what will happen if they breach the rules. Prevention is better than cure. Clear rules for employees help to avoid most employment tribunal cases.
3. Consider Alternatives To Disciplinary Action
If you are frustrated by an underperforming employee, consider whether it could be addressed with a Performance Improvement Plan, rather than formal disciplinary or capability action. Taking a less confrontation option may well avoid an Employment Tribunal case.
4. Keep Written Records
Keep written records of every time that you discuss the troublesome ‘issue’ with your employee. This allows you to refer back with confidence to previous conversations. After formal meetings make sure the employee gets a copy of the meeting notes. Good communication goes a long way to avoiding an employment tribunal case.
5. Act Fairly When Using Formal Disciplinary Action
Establish the facts – conducting an investigation is critical. Inform the employee of the results of the investigation – if there is a disciplinary case to answer write to the employee and invite them to a formal hearing.
- to inform them that they have the right to be accompanied;
- to hold a disciplinary meeting;
- listen to the employee’s evidence – don’t do all the talking yourself.
…..and remember to demonstrate why your actions were justified
6. Take Appropriate Action
Once you have held the disciplinary meeting and considered all the evidence, inform the employee of your decision in writing. Remember to demonstrate why your actions were justified.
7. Provide The Employee With An Opportunity To Appeal
Following the disciplinary meeting you will write to the employee to inform them of your decision. The right to an appeal should be included in your letter. If the employee wishes to appeal against your decision it should be conducted by someone not involved with the initial investigation and disciplinary hearing. Follow the correct procedure and it will prevent an employment tribunal case.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you still end up with the headache of defending an employment tribunal case. If that happens, we are here to help – contact us.