The employment tribunal is hardly a destination of choice and there is much to be said for not having to spend much time there.
But small businesses often don’t have the benefit of a HR team focused on claim prevention. This can be a factor in employment problems not being nipped in the bud at an early stage and matters escalating, until an appearance at the employment tribunal begins to look inevitable.
There are many ways that small businesses can avoid costly employment claims. The following examples are some of the most common employment issues that small businesses may face:
Ambiguity over notice periods, working hours and job roles simply leads to more problems in the long run. Employment contracts can include useful terms, such as the right to pay an employee in lieu of notice if things are not working out, and restrictive covenants to protect against competition and poaching of clients.
Employment policies: Employment tribunals are rarely impressed when an employer facing a discrimination claim has no equal opportunities policy. Ditto in a whistleblowing case.
Employment contracts should state where an employee can access disciplinary and grievance procedures. Employers which have policies are in a better position to manage their workforce, which means that problems are tackled head on before they turn into claims against the organisation.
Employment policies should be regularly reviewed and updated and be readily available to employees. Generally, they should not be contractual and are more for guidance in line with best practice.