Employment law can appear complex and tends to make managers nervous but it’s actually, at its core, simple, straightforward and based on common sense.
When Employment Tribunals were first introduced the idea was that lawyers would not be needed. Unfortunately one side hired a lawyer, then the other and now few companies attend without legal representation. Consequently the costs in both time and money can be very heavy. It is therefore best to do what you can to avoid having a case appear before a Tribunal.
Here are the three simple, common-sense criteria you need to understand, as they are what an Employment Tribunal would assess a case on:
- Were procedures followed?
A manager can be correct to dismiss an employee but if they did so ignoring their own company’s policies then an award will be made to the individual.
Know your own procedures or visit the Acas site. If confused by what you read then challenge and ask until you fully understand.
- Did the organisation behave reasonably?
Again you can be right to dismiss but do so in an unreasonable manner and an award will be made to the employee. Therefore it is important to calmly consider each action you take throughout any formal process. As the manager of what can often be an emotionally charged situation it is extremely beneficial to discuss the case with objective professional advisors who are experienced in such situations. And always check with yourself, ‘Would someone outside looking in consider this action to be reasonable?’ If you find yourself hurriedly justifying the action using the word ‘but’ think again.
- Balance of probability
So there it is. Three simple steps to employment law. But the best advice of all? Be a strong, clear and communicative manager. Train, gain a mentor, learn about the art of managing people and thereby avoid ever having to stand in front of an Employment Tribunal.