Worcestershire employees ear-marked for redundancy have been urged to make sure they are treated fairly as figures reveal a soaring number of employment tribunal claims.
Worcester-based employment expert Kate Jones has spoken out following the release of annual statistics which show a 39 per cent hike in the number of tribunals brought by people during 2012/13 against their employers after they failed to follow redundancy consultation procedures.
Mrs Jones, an assistant solicitor at county law firm mfg Solicitors, said the comparison figure with 2011/12 highlights a ‘disturbing trend’ but has urged people to seek immediate advice if they feel they have been unfairly treated during the consultation process.
She said: “Although Worcestershire’s job market is in a better state than at the height of the recession we are still seeing firms cutting jobs and inevitably that is putting many people into a redundancy situation.
“Employers should follow fair procedures and play things by the book from start to finish. Many haven’t been and that has contributed to a disturbing trend in the rise of the number of people forced to claim unfair dismissal.
“As a firm we have seen an upturn in the number of local people turning to us for advice. Some have been through painful redundancy processes where few meaningful consultations have taken place, some haven’t been informed of other suitable vacancies or the appeal process, and others have been blatantly ignored and had no option but to take legal action through a tribunal.
“The poor and inconsistent treatment these people have received from their employers is the reason why we are seeing a rise in the number of claims and let’s face it, who can blame them.
“The more people seek support the more they are able to establish what legal rights they have. That includes those in situations where their employer has become insolvent and have lost all hope of being awarded any money. Through our help they have found channels such as the National Insurance Fund a worthwhile route to go down.”
Mrs Jones added that recent changes to the tribunal system now means someone who commences a claim will face a £250 issue fee, potentially followed by a £950 hearing charge – large sums to someone living off their redundancy payout.
She added: “Sometimes a tribunal is the only way for people to get what they are entitled to but for many it’s the last resort. It’s a situation which can be avoided by taking advice quickly, establishing the position and having that much needed legal hand to hold to ensure all that should be happening, is happening.”
As part of mfg’s drive to support the region’s workers, Kate Jones is offering free initial consultation sessions for workers who are faced with redundancy. Appointments can be made by email through firstname.lastname@example.org