Posts from November 2018

The Ministry of Justice published figures on 8th March 2018 that single claims lodged at employment tribunals increased by a remarkable 90% between October to December 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016. 
Claims have increased due to a change last year by the Supreme Court who abolished tribunal fees. The reasoning behind this decision was that tribunal fees meant many people were not getting access to fair justice because the fees were a barrier, especially those on low incomes. 
Anyone considering an employment tribunal claim must in the first instance speak to ACAS
ACAS will try and resolve case, acting as an intermediary between employee and employer and this can often result in a satisfactory resolution. ACAS claims to settle around 92% of disagreements between staff and their employers. 
According to ACAS the most common categories of dispute were discipline, dismissal and grievances; contracts; and wages and the national minimum wage. 
But what if you are a company who has been unable to resolve a dispute and have now received an employment tribunal claim? The first thing to do is act quickly. This is very important to avoid unnecessary costs. 
Allocate someone within the business to deal with the claim and respond to the paperwork within the deadlines. 
Our advice is always to seek legal advice and we can work with you alongside an employment lawyer to look at the case and do a full review. 
It is important to carefully look at the claim and focus on the allegations being made and do a proper investigation. 
An employment tribunal is an independent judicial body and its purpose is to resolve disputes according to employment law. They will listen to both the employer and employee before making a decision. 
Tribunals should be avoided as they are not a fast process and can be very time consuming. The average time is around 27 weeks and depending on the complexity it could be up to a year. It can also be very stressful for all involved. 
It is important to get legal advice relating to the success of the case and you may have to pay compensation of reinstate the claimant if you lose the case. 
The best advice we can give you is to avoid things ever getting to this point. This means have clear contracts with your staff, clear disciplinary procedures, staff handbook and ensure you are compliant with the latest HR and employment laws. 
We do a business health check on your company and are happy to advise you on the areas you need support and guidance. 
Preventing disputes is much better than dealing with them! 
Do not leave things to chance- act now! 
Now is the time! The weather is colder, but we haven’t had snow yet (unless you are in Scotland!) and you need to plan for the bad weather, so your business isn’t too disrupted which leads to losses or accidents. 
It a fact that Britain is never really prepared for bad weather conditions – everything seems to grind to a halt. The rail networks, buses and roads are always affected meaning that your business can lose money. We know bad weather will hit us but too many of us do little to protect our business. 
So what contingencies can you put in place to cope? 
Here are 6 top tips to ensure your business is ready for winter! 
1. Staff travel 
Start with going through all your team and making sure you know how they get to work. This should be something you do on a regular basis. A quick questionnaire – do they bus, cycle, walk, drive or come by train. 
Once you know this vital piece of information you can look at which areas were affected over the past couple of years with bad weather and what alternative transport plans can be put into place in case of issues. Proper consultation with your staff before weather issues arise is always advisable. Make sure they fully understand what measures you have in place and they know how they are going to be able to get to work should their journey be affected. It may be that you need to have a process where they can work from home. 
2. Technology 
Make sure you have a contingency plan should there be a power cut. Ensure you have up to date contact information on all your staff and clients and that this can be accessed remotely. Good IT systems are vital for any business. Consider if your office had no power – how could you continue to work? If all your phones went off – how could your customers contact, you? Good risk assessments are vital. Investing in a generator may also be advisable, depending on what your business does. 
3. Your building 
How safe is your building during the winter months? When did you last get the central heating serviced? Are your pipes lagged and have they been checked for any potential issues? Are your windows insulated? How water tight is your roof? Floods are also a risk in some areas. It is important to look at what the potential risks are to your business in adverse weather and ensure your building is safe from the elements and warm for your staff. 
Make sure you have a list of local tradesmen ready and that you have made the relevant checks before the weather hits below zero! 
4. Preventing slips and falls 
Make sure the exterior of your premises is checked daily and salt/grit added to prevent staff slipping or falling over. Ice is one of the major causes of broken and fractured limbs over the winter. Ensure you’ve gritted paths, car parks, fire escapes, access points, fire assembly points, delivery entrances 
The ‘Health and Safety at Work act 1974’ requires employers to take appropriate steps to deal with slip and trip risks. Winter is an especially dangerous time for such incidents. 
In the 2016 UK Health and safety report, it states that 20% of workplace accidents are caused by a slip, trip or fall. Don’t get caught out – make sure you have a simple daily procedure to ensure this doesn’t happen! 
5. Insurance 
Is your insurance up to date? You can also get insurance for bad weather so investing in business interruption insurance may be worthwhile. Also check your building and contents insurance and make sure you are fully covered. 
6. If your business has vehicles make sure they are ready. Ensure they are fully serviced and ready for winter and snow tyres may be a worthwhile investment if you need to deliver goods or have vehicles that need to keep moving during all weathers. 
Remember the 4 P’s -Proper planning, prevents, problems! 
By doing this now and ensuring you are ready for winter you will minimise disruption to your business and reduce the amount of financial loss you might suffer! 
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