We are all taught that the key asset in any business is its people. But for some employers and employees, when things don’t work out and all else fails this can unfortunately sometimes result in courts, tribunals and the minefield that is employment law.
We are hearing that an upturn in the UK economic outlook has seen a reduction in redundancies, but in return the introduction of tribunal fees, has prevented access to justice for many. Can this really be the case?
We approached Natalie Thomson, to see if she might shed some light on this for us. Natalie has been a qualified employment Solicitor for 9 years and works for Premier Legal LLP a niche employment firm based in the centre of Nottingham.
When she is not practicing law, you will find Natalie out running or working out in the gym. A keen fan of the Half Marathon, Natalie recently tested herself with the extreme event that is the 10k WOLF RUN. Cold, muddy, wet and exhausted, she loved it and already has one eye on a potential maiden triathlon.
Here are Natalie’s thoughts on the impact of these changes:
“It is true that there has been an impact on Tribunal claims since the fee paying regime came into force in July 2013. The statistics speak for themselves. The Ministry of Justice has just released Employment Tribunal statistics for the period from April to June 2014. There has been a 71% drop in claims compared with the same period in 2013. Single claims are also down by 1/3 compared to January to March 2014.
So why is this?
Before the reforms to the Tribunal system, anyone could submit a claim. The system was full of claims, many of which were maliciously presented or had no reasonable prospects of success.
As Solicitors, we would try and get these claims struck out, often successfully but this still caused our clients to incur considerable costs. Costs orders were rarely made against Claimants and it was a very unbalanced system. Something needed to be done and the fee paying system was right in many respects. In most cases the Claimant now has to pay £250 to issue the claim and £950 for the claim to be heard. At Premier Legal we are working on more Tribunal claims than ever. Whilst Claimants are having to enter into mandatory pre claim conciliation and then pay a fee, this is making them think twice before they commit to litigation. It means, by consequence that the claims that are proceeding are those that deserve to be.
Does this prevent access to justice? Not really. Many Claimants have legal expenses insurance policies that they can use and there are many Solicitors that will take claims with sufficient merit on, on a damages based agreement (similar to a no win no fee type agreement).
Settlement agreements (formerly called compromise agreements) are also being used more frequently now to avoid the costs and uncertainty associated with litigation. Therefore whilst fees have clearly affected the numbers of claims, so has the mandatory pre claim conciliation process (this came into force in May 2014).
We are seeing a change in the market in terms of the advice that we are giving. There is always advice to be given on redundancies but this is not as prevalent as it was. Our clients are recruiting, promoting and rewarding. Auto enrolment is having a large impact on Companies because this is a huge financial and operational change but the pay cuts, removal of benefits and redundancies has certainly reduced.
As for dismissals, is it virtually impossible to dismiss an employee? Do they have all of the rights? Absolutely not. It is far easier than you think, you just need to take the right advice and follow a fair and reasonable procedure. All of the advisers at Premier Legal LLP are qualified Solicitors or Barristers and can deal with any employment law issue for you”
Of course we find at Evoke Telecom that the best solution is to provide working conditions and solutions that enable employees to work efficiently and effectively, be it in the office, at home or remotely. Work life balance continues to challenge and for many, any help that legislation and technology can bring is more than welcomed. This is the case for employers AND employees alike. As we all know, a happy employee is more often than not, a productive and loyal employee.
At Evoke Telecom we can offer a wide range of options to help deliver a more balanced work to life relationship: from remote fixed and mobile telephones that are integrated into your business telephone system, through to full desktop collaboration, presence, instant messaging and high quality mobile video conferencing.
Today, work can be the thing that you do as opposed to the place that you go to!
If you want to know more about how business communications can help your working environment and employee work life balance, then why not contact our team for a free consultation on 0800 8403688 or 01509 278278
If you wish to learn more about recent employment law changes or need help and guidance with any employment issues, then you can contact Natalie and the team at Premier Legal LLP as below.
Natalie Thomson – Premier Legal LLP – Tel: 0115 988 6211 | Fax: 0115 988 6212