Tribunals still a headache for small businesses

Employers still consider the tribunal process a major source of frustration despite the latest statistics showing a 15 per cent fall in the number of claims, says an employment law specialist.

Managing director of Bibby Consulting Michael Slade welcomes the news that the overall number of claims has dropped, but questions whether this drop is actually being felt by micro and small businesses, and whether some elements of the reports were being overlooked.

Slade says, ‘Statistics can be diced in different ways to present different insights according to the views you represent. So while the Ministry of Justice’s headline is a 15 per cent drop, if you dig a little deeper you get a different picture.’

He argues that, when looking at the impact on small and micro businesses that are more likely to face single claims, the report shows 2 per cent fewer claims compared to the previous period.

However, set that against the fact that there were 6 per cent fewer disposals and this actually means a net rise of 4 per cent. Slade also calls for a breakdown of the statistics to show trends for micro and small businesses.

‘This is where the impact of a claim is really felt. Medium and large enterprises may have in-house HR or legal functions, and most certainly broader management teams compared to micro or small firms where the disruption is often at director/owner level, which obviously means a proportionately larger burden on management.

‘So, in this case, smaller in terms of the size of the company definitely means bigger in terms of real impact on the business.’

Slade adds that government must do more to ease the burden for small and micro businesses specifically. ‘The fees for tribunal applications are clearly an obvious route for this but frustratingly we are no further on from seeing this implemented.

‘The prime minister has regularly stated that small and micro businesses are the life blood of the economy and so he must stand by his word and do more to help them.’

Alan Dobie

Anya Feeney

Alan was assistant editor at Vitesse Media Plc (previous owner of smallbusiness.co.uk) before moving on to a content producer role at Reed Business Information. He has over 17 years of experience in the...

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