Workplace disputes are on the up – the number of employment tribunal cases has nearly doubled over the past year. In this contentious era, you must protect your organisation. The key is to embed the right processes, culture and behaviours to stop conflict arising in the first place.
Today’s enlightened employees know their rights. And they expect your organisation to play by the rules, behave responsibly and treat them with respect and dignity. When they feel let down by your actions, they’re quick to turn to employment tribunals to put it right.
The removal of employment tribunal fees in 2017 was a turning point for workplace disputes. Before the legislative changes, your people would have had to pay a fee of up to £1,200 to bring an employment tribunal claim. Now they can apply on online without the need to pay an entry fee. This has had a significant impact on people’s willingness to escalate their workforce complaints.
Since the fees were scrapped last year, the total number of cases processed by tribunals has nearly doubled. You must protect your position. Drawn-out tribunal claims create a major management distraction. They not only use up valuable working time. They can lead to serious reputation and financial risks.
While it’s impossible to completely remove tension and conflict in your workplace, you can take steps to cut the likelihood of contentious disputes occurring. This means taking a fresh look at whether you’re meeting your obligations around employment rights, including dismissal, discrimination, holiday and sick pay entitlement, National Minimum Wage and equal pay.
Yet we know many organisations aren’t taking the taken proper prevention procedures. Our research with YouGov shows that only half have a carried out a role-specific pay audit to rule out the chance that NWM rules have been misapplied, or that there is an equal pay issue. Without this, it may become hard to protect your organisation from claims and penalties.
It’s also important to embed policies that will allow you to effectively deal with concerns once they arise. Remember that conflicts will rarely resolve on their own. You must support the right behaviours and cultures if you are to minimise the risk of a worker complaint inflating into a drawn-out tribunal claim.
That means making your managers your first line of defence, embedding policies that allow employees to see the value of coming forward with complaints, and making sure employment contracts are up-to-date.
Find out how you can do this by downloading our new forces at work guide.