Tribunal Archives - MLP Law

The Art of Defending Constructive Dismissal Claims

Constructive dismissal refers to a situation where an employee resigns from their job in response to a fundamental breach of their employment contract by the employer.  The breach may be a single serious incident or a series of incidents that cumulatively create an untenable working environment.  In essence, the employee resigns because they feel they have no other reasonable option due to the employer’s actions.

To effectively contest a constructive dismissal claim, it’s crucial to understand the key elements involved.  The Employment team at mlplaw have therefore set out how to best navigate defending such a claim.

 

Understanding the Elements of Constructive Dismissal

First, it’s crucial to identify the specific terms of the employment contract that the employee claims were breached.  This could include issues such as changes in job responsibilities, working conditions, harassment, or a breakdown in trust between the parties.

Next, it is important to determine if there has been a fundamental breach of the employment contract.  Is the alleged breach of such significance that it goes to the root of the employment relationship, making it impossible for the employee to continue working?

 

Defending a Claim

Once you have established the central pillars of the case brought by the employee, you must determine the grounds for refuting the claim.  The two key areas of challenge are:

  • That the employer did not breach the contract as alleged; and/or
  • That action (or inaction) by the employer was not sufficient to amount to a material breach of contract.

Once the overarching approach has been determined, it must be narrated in the defence form – known as an ET3 – that is then submitted to the Employment Tribunal.  The ET3 must be submitted within 28 days from the date the employer received the claim form and can be done online.

It is also necessary to collate detailed written records of all relevant communications, incidents, and significant events, relating to the employee.  This includes emails, meeting notes and any other documentation that may be pertinent to the case, as they will form the basis of the documentary evidence in the employer’s defence.

Similarly, employers who utilise a fair and reasonable procedure when faced with an aggrieved employee, can rely on the documentary evidence generated during that process in the event of a claim.  Thorough grievance procedures, supported by detailed policy documentation addressing various issues, such as discrimination in the workplace, bullying and harassment, are all vital.  In addition, having those robust policies in place can also demonstrate an employer’s commitment to fair treatment and compliance with the law and can help to reduce the risk of employees making a constructive dismissal claim in the first place.

Moreover, a constructive dismissal claim is often founded on the assertion that there has been a breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence.  This requires an employer to demonstrate that they had reasonable and proper cause for behaving in a particular way.  Ensuring that employees are aware of the reasons behind decisions that may impact their employment can minimise the risk of litigation.  Where this approach has been taken, those involved in the process will be useful witnesses in the event of a claim.  Therefore, businesses that have communicated changes that affect the employment relationship in a transparent manner (such as changing an employee’s role or terms and conditions) can refer to those processes to refute an accusation that the employer has acted in such a way as to undermine trust.

Finally, given that prevention is better than cure, businesses should consider early intervention when faced with an unhappy employee.  Many employers find that when they encourage open communication in the workplace, it can lead to concerns being addressed before they escalate.  This may involve internal mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods, which can resolve issues without the need for the employee to resort to legal action.

In summary, by combining legal expertise, communication strategies, and proactive measures, employers can be in a stronger position when reacting to constructive dismissal claims.  It’s important to approach each case individually, considering the unique circumstances and tailoring the defence strategy accordingly.

Understanding Discrimination Claims in the Employment Tribunal

There are so many layers to discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal that employers often don’t know where to start.

Avoiding discrimination claims in the first place is clearly the best approach, but if you do receive a claim, how do you defend it? As an employer, it’s vital to understand the complexities of discrimination claims so that you’re ready to tackle the common hurdles which affect employers head-on.

Thankfully, the Employment Tribunal experts at mlplaw have created this blog, especially for employers seeking to protect their business from discrimination claims.

Peel back the layers of complexity:

Discrimination legislation generally, and discrimination claims specifically, can be incredibly daunting for employers. However, with expert guidance, these layers of complexity can be stripped back so that you can protect your business from Employment Tribunal claims.

From recognising the protected characteristics (such as race, age, sex, or disability) to understanding the differences between the different forms of discrimination (such as direct, indirect, or harassment), when you understand the legal framework you can put into practice effective measures to ensure you don’t fall foul of your obligations.

Common challenges for employers and addressing them proactively:

It is all too easy for employers to fail to identify and appropriately tackle discriminatory behaviours, or to overlook the importance of putting in place effective policies and procedures to prevent such behaviour from occurring.

The employment law experts at mlplaw have seen these mistakes and many more. They have also seen how costly they can be for employers and have practical solutions to prevent your business from falling into the same trap.

They know that the key to overcoming these challenges lies in taking proactive measures. Employers need robust anti-discrimination policies, regular training to educate employees on what is and aren’t acceptable in the workplace (as well as for managers on how to deal with discriminatory behaviour), and a commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace culture.

Addressing issues promptly, conducting thorough investigations, and taking corrective action when necessary are all crucial steps in building a workplace that values diversity and combats discrimination.

Tailored Solutions for Employers:

We know that each case is unique and our approach involves providing a bespoke solution that is tailored to your business needs. Whether it’s preventative measures, dispute resolution, or representing you in the Employment Tribunal, mlplaw offers a comprehensive suite of services specifically designed to safeguard your business.

Conclusion:

Discrimination claims may be complex, but with the right expertise and support, proactive employers can tackle the challenges these claims bring and avoid the consequences that can befall the unprepared.

Contact us today on 0161 929 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk to schedule a consultation and ensure you give your business the best chance of successfully avoiding and defending discrimination claims in the Employment Tribunal.

Settling an Employment Tribunal Claim: The Strategic Choice?

Picture this: You’re a business owner, and an Employment Tribunal claim lands on your desk. The immediate instinct might be to dig in your heels and prepare for a protracted legal battle, driven by your values as a responsible employer. The sense of injustice can sting, making it feel like a matter of principle to defend your name to the hilt.

However, consider the hidden currents beneath the surface. The time and costs incurred in defending a claim can be like a heavy anchor, slowing down your business voyage. The process itself is like a turbulent storm, and the impact of being absorbed by ongoing employment litigation can’t be underestimated.

Thankfully, there’s a more efficient course of action. Let’s explore the benefits of achieving commercial settlements in Employment Tribunal claims:

  1. Avoid Costs and Minimize Financial Impact:

Think of settling the claim as a strategic manoeuvre, akin to finding a shortcut through the maze. It can help you steer clear of the financial pitfalls of a prolonged legal defence. Settling early in the Employment Tribunal process often means paying a significantly lower settlement sum to the Claimant than the costs incurred by defending the claim through a final hearing. Even if the claim is successfully defended, recovering those costs in the Employment Tribunal is a long shot, meaning this is a serious consideration even in cases where the employer has the strongest defence.

 

  1. Cut Out Distractions and Free Up Your Time:

Consider the Employment Tribunal process as a detour, a long and winding route. Settling is like finding the direct highway to resolution, saving you from the stress and distraction of navigating a legal labyrinth. It’s a faster way to get back to matters that truly benefit your business.

 

  1. Stay in Control:

A settlement places you in the driver’s seat, like holding the reins of your business. You dictate the terms, ensuring that the outcome aligns with your goals and needs. You wouldn’t hand control of your business to a stranger in any other context, so why consider it here?

 

Settling an Employment Tribunal claim isn’t waving a white flag; it’s a strategic advance. It’s a shrewd business decision to utilise your resources efficiently, rather than exhausting your energy, time, and finances in a prolonged legal battle. By freeing up your time and minimizing the financial impact of the claim, you can redirect these valuable assets to more productive ventures within your business. This approach ensures that an Employment Tribunal claim remains an inconvenience, rather than growing into a major distraction and financial strain on your business.

mlplaw is here to support you throughout the Employment Tribunal journey and ensure you have expert representation every step of the way. Contact us today on 0161 929 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk to schedule a consultation and ensure you give your business the best chance of achieving a successful outcome when defending an Employment Tribunal claim.

The Employment Tribunal Process: From Start to Finish

The Employment Tribunal process can appear daunting for an employer. Understanding the sequence of events is crucial to managing expectations and ensuring a smoother journey through the legal system.

In this blog, we’ll guide you through the Employment Tribunal process from start to finish, offering an overview of what to expect at each stage.

 

  1. ACAS Early Conciliation

Most Employment Tribunal claims begin with the optional step of ACAS Early Conciliation. Before a claimant can submit a claim to the Employment Tribunal, they must notify ACAS, who will aim to facilitate a resolution between the parties before the matter proceeds to a formal claim.

 

  1. Claim Submission

If the dispute is not resolved at ACAS Early Conciliation stage, the formal proceedings will commence the submission of a claim. A Claimant (the person bringing the claim) files an ET1 form with the Employment Tribunal, outlining the details of their complaint.

 

  1. Acknowledgment and Response

Upon receipt, the Employment Tribunal will acknowledge the claim and notify the Respondent (typically the employer). The Respondent must then submit their response using an ET3 form, in most cases within 28 days.

 

  1. Case Management

After the response is filed, the Employment Tribunal will take over the management of the case. This will include scheduling and managing key dates, such as deadlines for submitting documents and witness statements.

 

  1. Preliminary Hearings (if necessary)

In some cases, a preliminary hearing may be held to address specific issues or disputes, or to discuss the case management timetable referred to above. These hearings help streamline the main tribunal process by resolving any procedural matters and setting a clear schedule for the progression of more complex claims.

 

  1. Exchange of evidence

The Claimant and Respondent are required to exchange all relevant evidence in their possession. This can include anything from meeting notes and correspondence to CCTV footage and WhatsApp messages. As the parties are obliged to provide all evidence which is relevant to the issues in the claim, this can also require the parties to disclose evidence which is damaging to their case.

The evidence exchanged allows the Employment Tribunal to assess the strength of the evidence, scrutinise the parties’ arguments, and make informed decisions based on a complete and accurate picture of the situation.

 

  1. Witness Statements

Witness statements play a pivotal role in Employment Tribunal claims as they provide firsthand accounts of the events and circumstances leading to the dispute. These statements are crucial because they serve as evidence presented by individuals who have direct knowledge of the case, such as people who observed key events or who made key decisions (such as disciplinary decisions).

Witness statements help in establishing the facts, corroborating or refuting the claims made by either party, and ultimately influencing the Employment Tribunal’s decision. Witness statements can significantly impact the outcome of a case, making them a vital tool in ensuring a fair and just resolution in Employment Tribunal claims.

 

  1. The Final Hearing

The final hearing is where the heart of the matter is addressed. It’s here that both parties present their case, and witnesses may be called upon to present their evidence and face cross-examination. The Employment Tribunal will evaluate the evidence and arguments before making a judgment.

The final hearing represents the culmination of the parties’ efforts to make their case and is where the Employment Tribunal’s decision, which can have substantial legal and financial consequences, is reached.

 

  1. The Judgment and Remedy

The Employment Tribunal issues its judgment at the conclusion of, or following, the final hearing. The judgment typically outlines the reasoning behind the Employment Tribunal’s decision, and in many cases, or on request, the Employment Tribunal will provide its reasons in writing.

If the claim is successful, the Employment Tribunal may also confirm the remedy which is being awarded, although it is also common for this to be determined at a separate Remedy Hearing. The remedies available in Employment Tribunal include compensation, reinstatement, or re-engagement and the actual remedy awarded will depend on the circumstances and the outcome sought by the Claimant.

 

  1. Appeals (if applicable)

Appeals are relatively rare in Employment Tribunal claims, although either the Claimant or the Respondent is entitled to appeal if they believe the Employment Tribunal made a legal error in reaching its decision. Parties are not entitled to appeal simply because they are unhappy with the Employment Tribunal’s decision. Appeals against decisions made by the Employment Tribunal are heard by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) and appeals beyond the EAT are also possible in certain circumstances.

 

Conclusion:

We hope this blog will equip you with a good understanding of what the Employment Tribunal process entails, from the moment you are contacted by ACAS during the Early Conciliation process until the Employment Tribunal hands down its judgment.

mlplaw is here to support you throughout the Employment Tribunal journey and ensure you have expert representation every step of the way. Contact us today on 0161 929 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk to schedule a consultation and ensure you give your business the best chance of successfully defending an Employment Tribunal claim.