Do You Have Fair Process & Procedures?
When it comes to fair process and procedures, I’m quite often asked: “Is that really necessary?” My response is always something along the lines of “Well, if you were in that situation, how would you like to be treated?”
This Golden Rule applies to life as well as business. So, when it comes to your employees, make sure you employ a fair process and maintain a consistent approach. This way, if an employee were ever to sue your company for unfair dismissal, an Employment Tribunal will take your fairness and consistency into account.
I am sure many you have heard of instances when an employee has done something wrong. Imagine their employer turns around and says “Don’t bother coming back on Monday.” Well, this is precisely what happened in 2015 between one Mr Townsend and one Mr Cooke.
The Curious Case of Townsend v Commercial Storage Ltd.
Seen as a good employee, Mr Townsend worked as a driver for Mr Cooke’s small family business. They had known each other for over 20 years when an argument occurred. Perhaps understandably, Mr Townsend treated Mr Cooke’s words “Get out of the yard and don’t bother coming back on Monday” as a dismissal. But do these words, spoken in the heat-of-the-moment, constitute dismissal or did Mr Townsend resign?
The ensuing employment tribunal upheld the employee’s claim for unfair dismissal because of the following:
- No one from the company attempted to make contact with the employee after this incident, and the company just sent him his P45
- There was a total failure to adopt any form of fair process or procedure
Based on the employee’s status; age and year’s of service, they could claim up to £479 per year’s service as a basic award. The tribunal also has the power to increase or decrease this award.
How Much Could An Employment Tribunal Cost You?
The above case may be an unusual exception to the rule, but Townsend v Commercial Storage Ltd. highlights what can happen when words are said in the heat of the moment. The moral of the story? Be careful what you say!
As an employer, these costs are not the only cost you may face if you lose an unfair dismissal case. Under the Employment Tribunals Regulations 2013, the maximum costs award without a detailed assessment is £20,000. However, there is no upper limit if the amount is determined by throrough evaluation of the costs incurred. Additionally, the tribunal can order a party to pay an amount in respect of tribunal fees paid by the other parties and expenses incurred by witnesses in attending the tribunal.
Fair Process Summary:
You must treat all employees equally with fair process and consistency. Running a small business myself, I realise the thought of solicitors, and legal advice makes you see pound signs. However, coming from a highly operational background, I understand that processes should not help and not hinder the operation. Here at Kate Underwood HR, we offer affordable monthly service plans which give you peace of mind without breaking the bank.
Being fair to your employees amounts to more than just common decency. Ensuring you have fair processes could save you thousands of pounds in Employment Tribunals. Please give me a call if you would like to discuss any aspect of this blog.
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