Helping you resolve problems in the workplace
Employment disputes can arise for a variety of reasons. An employee may allege that they have been unlawfully discriminated against, a consultant or agency worker may claim the terms of their contract have been breached, a manager or director may claim that they have been unfairly or wrongfully dismissed from their post, a former sales representative may be trying to poach clients in breach of a restrictive covenant, or members of the workforce may allege a failure to adequately consult with them over proposed changes to a business which will result in, for example, some of them being made redundant or transferred to a new employer under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 (TUPE).
As an employer, you may have a number of competing concerns. Your gut reaction might be to try to contain the problem to avoid adverse publicity and damage to your business operations, but you may be worried about setting some sort of precedent if you agree to settle the matter and there are other employees, consultants or workers waiting in the wings with similar claims.
There can often be a fine line to tread between settling a claim to get rid of it and opening a potential can of worms. The approach you take will very much be determined by your commercial objectives and attitude to risk.
How Hancock Quins Solicitors can help
Resolving workplace disputes is rarely straightforward, but with the help and guidance of our expert disputes resolution lawyers we can help you navigate through any difficulties, by:
- identifying the issues in dispute;
- giving you an opinion on where you stand;
- explaining your options, taking account of your legal position, commercial aims and attitude to risk;
- helping you gather evidence to support your case;
- negotiating with the employee, consultant or worker to try to resolve the matter amicably (via protected conversations if appropriate) and recording any agreed terms in a formal settlement or compromise agreement;
- helping you prepare for, and supporting you during, the Acas early conciliation process;
- assessing the likely cost of employment tribunal proceedings or court action versus the best and worst possible outcomes;
- considering whether there is anything that can be done to protect your position while the employment tribunal or a court decides the case, such as preventing a former employee continuing to do business with your clients;
- bringing or defending employment tribunal or court proceedings on your behalf; and
- taking any necessary action to enforce the terms of any judgment or order made in your favour.
Acas early conciliation is compulsory in nearly all workplace disputes now and has been shown to be very effective at helping to find sensible and fair solutions. However, it does not negate the need for legal advice to ensure that the approach taken to the conciliation process is appropriate to the circumstances.
If it is clear that an employee is trying it on, and would have little if no prospects of succeeding in a claim before the employment tribunal, it is important that this is identified as quickly as possible and a robust defence of your position maintained. However, conversely, if it is possible that a claim may very well succeed, and if it does it could open the floodgates for similar claims, it may be desirable – depending on how bullish you want to be – to try to keep the claim away from Acas by nipping it in the bud.
Commercial advice, tailored to your specific needs and wants, will ensure that the best approach for you and your business is taken.