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December 2016 news

It’s December and hopefully you’re on a Christmas wind-down and enjoying the festivities.  We offer you our final serving of employment law/HR news for the year for you to feast on. Our 2016 Newsletters come to an end with a helping hand on data protection, the Trade Union Act 2016 and the gender pay gap.

In our final case update of the year we look at unfair dismissal and misconduct investigations, redundancy and an unreasonable consultation process and when protected conversations are not protected due to improper behaviour.

See you in 2017 and enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations!

What Jo has been doing recently…

Joanne Sefton

Much of my recent work has involved Employment Tribunal claims. I’m currently working on four new ones, all for very different employers, so they feel like the proverbial buses all coming along at once. Of course the volume of claims has fallen off since the introduction of fees in 2013. I believe common sense tells us that fewer people are taking the bus because the fare has gone from zero to about a grand, whilst the government seems keen to think it’s more to do with making everyone stand in the rain and have a chat about whether they want to get on the bus before they are allowed to board. Anyway, it would be nice to be able to say that the fees have put off the ‘chancers’ (of which there were, admittedly, many) and focussed attention on the valid claims. Sadly, that’s far from the case in my experience. If anything, it is the more awkward characters (to take a very broad brush approach) who are likely to push ahead with their claims notwithstanding the strong disincentive of the fee regime.

Taking into account the reduced overall numbers, we see about the same range of strong and weak claims, and that is borne out by statistical analysis of the outcomes of hearings following the introduction of costs.  So, if you are facing a claim, what can you do to ensure a smooth ride? I could write screeds on that, but some key points that consistently emerge as problems in ET claims are managers shooting from the hip when it comes to handling disciplinaries (and employee relations more generally), holes in investigations and the dreaded, dreaded ‘banter’.  All of these can be improved with targeted training, which will have wider organisational benefits as well as reducing the risk of handing ammunition to an employee who looks to bring a claim.

I’ll shortly be putting the ET claims on hold and turning my attention to munching mince pies and wrestling wrapping paper. I hope you all have a joyful and reviving break and look forward to working with you in 2017.

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