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10 tips for avoiding workplace claims

Published 01 March 2014

Workplace disputes, grievances and disciplinaries can be a costly and time consuming affair for businesses; especially if the issue was escalated to an employment tribunal. Here are our top ten tips on how to avoid such situations.

  1. Ensure that employment contracts are properly drafted and kept up to date. It is a legal requirement that employers provide employees with written statement of terms no later than 2 months after their employment begins. There is a certain information that must be contained in the written statement of terms which employers need to ensure is contained within their contracts.
  2. Have a staff handbook which is specifically tailored to your business needs and also contains policies which set out a code of practice and highlight procedures for managers to follow on when dealing with day to matters. An employment handbook should be an effective way of communicating employers’ and employees’ duties and obligations within the workplace thereby reducing any misunderstandings.
  3. Once a staff handbook is in place make sure that your employees are aware of all the policies and help them to understand the consequences if they breach any of them. Employers should treat employees fairly in accordance with these policies to avoid conflict.
  4. Provide training to your managers to help them understand the key principles in employment law and how to sensibly apply these in the workplace . Often managers who are very good in their specialist fields, may not know how to effectively deal with an employment dispute, training courses are therefore a useful  tool to help fill this void.
  5. If there is no alternative for employers but to follow a formal process, then make sure that procedures are followed in accordance with any contractual obligations and the relevant policies contained in the staff handbook. Also employers should ensure that disciplinary and grievance procedures comply with the ACAS Code of Practice. If employers fail to follow these ACAS guidelines then this could result in an employee’s compensation award being increased by 25% by the employment tribunal.
  6. Consider mediation to resolve disciplinary and grievance issues. mediation is a voluntary and informal service where an independent party helps two parties resolve a dispute. It can be used at any stage in a workplace dispute but may not be the best way forward in allegations of gross misconduct.
  7. There may be certain situation which are not easily resolved with difficult employees so employers should seek specialist employment advice at an early stage so as to avoid an expensive employment claim.
  8. Have a transparent pay, promotion and bonus structure in place to help avoid any equal pay claims.
  9. Allocate an individual in the business to periodically review all the policies and procedures to ensure that they comply with current employment law and also remain relevant to the business.
  10. Finally, it may sound straightforward but this point is often overlooked by employers. When you see a problem developing, communicate with your employees on an informal basis at the earliest opportunity in an attempt to seek a resolution before the dispute escalates into a situation which could result in an employment tribunal claim. Disputes in the workplace should ideally be addressed at an early stage and employers need to take time to listen to their employees.


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