Employment tribunals near-doubled - find out how to avoid them

With unemployment figures at their highest since 1997, and job vacancies down by more than a third since last year, it’s really no surprise that there are a lot of people out there who are pissed off about being made redundant. And when you’re angry, you want to do something to channel that rage.

Which might explain the sudden increase in employment tribunal claims – cases filed in 2008 were up by 43% from the year before.

New figures from the Tribunals Service reveal show that while the majority of 2008’s total of 189,303 claims were for equal pay and time regulations, 11,700 were related to redundancy – more than 7,000 over pay-offs and almost 4,500 due to a failure to inform and consult properly.

We all know that redundancy can be pretty unavoidable at the moment, and no employer wants to go through the mutual horror of having to tell someone they’ve lost their job, particularly when prospects elsewhere are so pitiful.

So, yes, it’s an awkward process – but employers should absolutely not try to rush it and fudge through it. As these figures show, not sticking to procedures can have some very nasty endings for business owners. 1,591 of the redundancy cases brought to the tribunals were successful – that’s 1,591 employers who will feel the sting of a hefty pay-out when they’re already struggling so badly they’ve needed to lay people off.

The process of redundancy deserves time, a militant adherence to rules, and, always always always, as much consultation and explanation as the employee losing their job needs.

That’s not to say you can’t make best of a bad situation by weeding out the weakest members of your company – but you have to be seen to be doing the right things at all times to ensure any case brought to tribunal won’t leave you with a fine and a damaged reputation.

If you’re about to go through this difficult process, read this feature on how to make employees redundant, which shows you how to stay on the right side of the law and how to preserve the incredibly fragile health of your company throughout and after this testing process.

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