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Employment tribunals: Would you know what to expect if things went wrong?

Blog post

Kate Fielding
Written by
Kate Fielding
8th July 2020
HR & Culture
HR mock employment tribunal

As co-ops we're all keen to develop great working relationships within our teams, but sometimes things just don't work out. Would you know what to expect if things went wrong?

What to expect at an employment tribunal

You hope it will never happen; certainly most people don't go to work looking for conflict, but, if you work in HR, as a line manager, or as a member in a worker co-op, the chances are that at some point during your career you'll have to make some difficult decisions regarding someone else's employment.

We've given an overview of why co-ops need to understand why this is an important issue. 

Most people take this responsibility seriously. You want to make sure you are treating a person fairly, whilst also doing the right thing for your organisation. But, sometimes things go wrong. 

  • You might be completely confident in the decision you've made and how you've gone about reaching that decision, but the other person might just fundamentally disagree with you.
  • Maybe you don't have the right knowledge and information to understand the potential impact of what you've decided to do.
  • Maybe you've just made a mistake.

Either way, sometimes employees complain about treatment they receive at work, and, if this happens to you, you might end up facing a claim in an employment tribunal. 

It can be scary to turn up to an employment tribunal for the first time; it’s a real court, with a real judge and very often real solicitors or barristers acting for the other side. Managers, HR managers or co-workers who have made decisions relating to the claimant’s employment will be asked to explain and justify, in detail, their actions and the decision they made.

Understanding the right approach will help decision makers appreciate the impact of those decisions:

  • Understanding the level of detail that the employment Judge will go in to will help you to make more robust decisions and to consider the implications of each action before you make it.
  • Help you to get things right in the first place to hopefully avoid the need to attend tribunals.
  • Understand how following fair processes and thinking things through carefully will give you a good defence and justification for your actions.

It will also help to remove some of the mystery and fear surrounding your first employment tribunal experience; you’ll know what to expect because you’ve seen it happen before. 

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