Businesses must be consistent on HR issues to avoid tribunals

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1. Maintain documentation. Make sure that all employment documentation, in particular contracts of employment, are in place, up to date and stored sensibly.

2. Review regularly.

Regularly review your employment documents, such as your disciplinary procedure, to ensure they meet your organisational needs, reflect changes in the law and your culture.

3. Communicate effectively and be consistent.

To avoid any potential misunderstanding, communicate your policies to staff so that there is no doubt what is expected and ensure that when required standards are not met, that you deal with issues consistently.

4. Provide training.

Train line managers so that they have the knowledge to ensure that they are able to competently deal with staff issues, by following the correct procedure, without concerns.

5. Don’t discriminate.

Be aware of the grounds on which discrimination can occur and ensure that there is no subconscious discrimination or ‘banter’ in the workforce which would offend.

6. Be proactive.

Don’t ignore any warning signs - always try to address any issues informally at the earliest possible opportunity as many disputes that end up at tribunal could have been nipped in the bud had they been dealt with efficiently before the parties’ positions become polarised.

7. Document decisions.

Keep written records of all employment decisions whether it is as minor as cautioning employees on time keeping or your decision making process in ending employment and always follow up by communicating the outcome in writing.

8. Be pragmatic.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a tribunal claim, be pragmatic and commercial by ensuring that you go in to the process with your eyes wide open knowing the risk and cost you face so that you have an informed strategy from the outset.

9. Be transparent.

Have a transparent pay, promotion and bonus structure in place to help avoid any equal pay claims. You can do this by being proactive and carrying out an equal pay audit which would provide a good defence should a claim be brought.

10. Seek advice.

If you have any concerns, seek advice from an employment specialist at the earliest opportunity – a short early conversation could save you time and prevent the dispute escalating to the tribunal stage.