Many employers will identify when I say that many had become sick and tired of settling claims, either by settlement agreement (previously called compromise agreements) or otherwise, which they considered had little or no merits. These claims were settled largely on economic grounds, encouraged in many cases by the no fee or costs rules in the Employment Tribunal until last year, encouraging a “nothing to lose” approach by employees.
On the other hand, many employees genuinely have been treated badly, either dismissed without good reason or process, subjected to bullying or harassment or discriminated against.
The above highlights the very different perceptions of employment law and emphasise it’s political nature – after all, most adults work, so employment law is an area of law that impacts hugely, and therefore, it’s political.
Recent data confirms a huge drop in the number of Employment Tribunal claims in the last 3 months – good news for employers.
Many employers, having breathed a sigh of relief, might be tempted to take employment law obligations less seriously or to put off, for example, obtaining or updating employment contracts, policies or procedures.
That approach would be a big mistake for the following reasons :-
- due to it’s highly sensitive and political basis, employment law tends ti get changed very regularly. With a General Election next year, if Labour replaces Conservative/Liberals, who’s to say the reforms to make fees payable won’t be reversed very quickly
- even with no change of Government, employment law is always evolving and changing. It’s an area of law where you need to stay on top of it, that won’t change, so ignoring it is risky
- whilst employers may avoid claims and pay outs in terms of numbers of claims which, whilst impacting the bottom line are not high value, there are sometimes claims which can run into many thousands of pounds. One claim of that type can really hurt a small or medium sized business
- thinking that employment contracts can be done on the cheap, without full consideration, because risks have reduced and they can be altered later, is a mistake. Employment contracts are like any other form of contract. Once agreed, neither party can in principle unilaterally update or change the contract without the other party’s consent.
So, whilst the latest developments will be welcomed by many employers, it’s important to continue to take employment law seriously, to ensure your business has the right contracts, policies and a consistent approach., If you need advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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