There has been a considerable increase in the number of employment tribunal claims that have been submitted since July 2017 when employment tribunal fees were abolished.
Is your company ready in the event of a claim? These are the top things you need to consider in order to make sure you and your witnesses are prepared.
Familiarise yourself with the procedure
A lot of people who are required to attend tribunals, and witnesses in particular, tend not to be fully aware of the formalities involved until they are actually faced with a hearing. The idea of doing a mock tribunal is to help delegates to understand what is expected of them as witnesses and therefore to give them some preparation in the event they are faced with an actual hearing.
Whilst witnesses cannot be coached, they can, however, be supported in developing their statement and understand the process of cross-examination and re-examination for what to expect in each stage of the tribunal process. Lack of preparation can affect witness credibility which can in turn affect the outcome. Judges have a degree of flexibility and discretion so no two tribunals will be identical even if the claim is the same.
One of the most important things for witnesses to do in order to prepare for a tribunal is to know the documents in the bundle so they understand the case fully. It can be time consuming, but it is time very well spent. Tribunals can be quite stressful but if you ‘know your case’ this will be reduced and will increase your confidence in dealing with matters that may arise.
For companies faced with a tribunal it is essential to gather all information related to the event that has caused the claim to be made and to make sure they are provided to their representative enough time in advance. This is the duty of ‘full disclosure’ and is a key part of the legal process.
A mile in their shoes
Witnesses should put themselves in the shoes of the claimant and ask themselves ‘what are the strengths and weaknesses of my case’? Of course you will, with the help of your representative, be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your defence and this ‘balanced approach’ can be invaluable.
Be completely open, honest and transparent with your representative. Be crystal clear on what you did or didn’t say or do to enable your representative to plan the defence accordingly. No surprises at the hearing is incredibly helpful. Listen very carefully to proceedings, in particularly listen to questions and points that both representatives and the panel make – it does make your life easier.
Prevention rather than cure
Finally does it not make sense to do all you can to avoid appearing in a Tribunal? Ensure your Managers and Supervisors are trained in implementing your procedures and how to make appropriate, consistent decisions and reduce the chances of any claim considerably.
To learn more about how to prepare for an Employment Tribunal, book our Mock Tribunal 1-day course.
EEF’s team of barristers, solicitors and HR professionals provide support on the full spectrum of HR and employment law issues. From HR advice and guidance packages at a fixed price to consultancy solutions and expert led training, our team have practical experience of dealing with every possible challenge a modern day workforce can present.
If you want to talk about any aspect of HR support for your business why not give us a call on 0808 168 5874 or email HRenquire@eef.org.uk