As the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic seep in you may find as an employer that employees are becoming more litigant in response to the reduced availability of other job opportunities. So what should you do if an Employment Tribunal claim comes your way?
- Take advantage of ACAS early conciliation – Claimants are generally required to register their claim with ACAS before they issue proceedings at the Employment Tribunal. This is your opportunity to resolve the situation at an early stage.
- It’s all about the details – Carefully examine the ET1. The Employment Tribunal may not have jurisdiction to hear a claim if the Claimant has made a mistake. Has the Claimant added the early conciliation certificate number? Have they issued proceedings against the correct Respondent? Most importantly, have they issued the claim in time?
- Gather your evidence – Do this at an early stage. Establish which people are relevant witnesses and ask for their version of events. Search for evidence and keep safe any relevant documentation. If the Claimant is no longer employed by you start gathering evidence for mitigation as loss of future earnings is likely to be the bulk of their losses and therefore compensation if they win.
- Do not miss your deadline – It is vital that you complete and lodge your defence (ET3) before the deadline. Do not be complacent with the timescale and avoid leaving the lodging of your defence until the last minute – the ET3 is an urgent matter to deal with.
- Respond to all allegations – Ensure you respond to each and every element of the Claimant’s claim. If you do not fully understand what the Claimant is alleging, state that and ask for the Claimant to elaborate. Ensure that your response to the allegations are accurate.
- Comply with all directions – keep note of any hearing dates and any dates to exchange evidence/witness statements. You may need to attend preliminary hearings to discuss matters other than the merits of a claim.
The best tip though is to take legal advice at an early stage. Read here as to how we can help you.
If you take legal advice when you are first aware of a claim on the horizon you will have an idea of the prospects of success of the Claimant’s potential claim and likewise your defence. You will then have the tools to assist you with your strategy. Employment law, particularly discrimination, equal pay, TUPE and whistleblowing claims can be very complex but even a straightforward unfair dismissal claim can have its nuances that require specific advice. A solicitor will be able to draft a comprehensive defence that deals with all of the allegations against you and will be able to assist you with a specific strategy to deal with the claim.
Disclaimer: The content of this article is for information only and should not be taken as specific legal advice. Please contact us for tailored legal advice.