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Employment expert issues warning over tribunals

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A flood of employment tribunal claims following the abolishment of “unlawful” fees means businesses across the West Midlands must ensure contracts of employment and their procedures are updated and watertight.

The warning has been issued by leading employment lawyer Sally Morris, who is urging firms in the county to ensure they are complying with their legal obligations especially surrounding disciplinary action and grievances.

Ms Morris, partner and head of the employment and HR services department at law firm mfg Solicitors, said there had been a 90% rise in tribunal claims issued between October and December last year, following a landmark Supreme Court decision in July 2017 against the controversial fees.

Fees for bringing a tribunal claim were introduced in 2013 and resulted in a significant reduction in claims as aggrieved parties weighed up the costs of taking action. They were abolished last summer, four years on.

Ms Morris said: “The impact of last summer’s court ruling was significant and far-reaching.

“The first batch of quarterly statistics since the Supreme Court decision show there were 8,173 single claims between October and December 2017, substantially up from 4,200 in the same period in 2014.

“On the whole, what the decision means is that it’s now far easier to bring a claim against an employer, whether it is reasonable or not.

“This means that businesses across the West Midlands must take time to ensure their procedures are watertight and their policies clear, so they are prepared if they are faced with invoking disciplinary or grievance procedures.

“Failure to plan or road-test their procedures properly or failure to adhere to procedures, will cost firms time and money in the long-term.”

For advice on employment matters, readers can email or call 0845 55 55 321.