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Are you protected?

By Victoria Brown

By Victoria Brown

In the latest blog from Victoria Brown, she discusses the latest in HR news and employee tribunal claims.

The last couple of years have been strange, challenging, different?  I think we can all relate to this in one way or another.  Professionally, my colleagues and I have witnessed some very strange times from an employee relations perspective.  The protection of my clients has always been my number one priority and keeping Employers out of Employment Tribunals is the absolute goal.  This is becoming more challenging due to a significant increase in claims for discrimination.

Did you know that an employee does not need two years’ service to submit an employment tribunal claim?  You would be surprised by how many business owners I speak to that make this easy mistake.  Employees are quite rightly protected under the Equality Act 2010.  It is against the law to discriminate against someone who has a ‘protected characteristic’.  They are as follows;



-Gender reassignment

-marriage and civil partnership

-pregnancy and maternity


-religion and belief


-sexual orientation

We are finding an emerging pattern with our clients in relation to discrimination claims.  It costs an employee nothing to submit a claim and they can represent themselves.  The form does not have to be very detailed, so there is not even a lot of effort required.  We have had several cases in the last two years that were spurious and eventually have been struck out by a judge.  The client has followed our advice and there has been no discrimination.  We had one case where the employee had only worked for my client for 1 month and was aggressive and could not perform the role.  That claim took over 12 months to get struck out, due to a combination of the process, lack of resource…….and quite frankly a desperate need for a shake-up of the Employment Tribunal system.  Fortunately, our client is retained by HPC and has our legal defence cover, therefore they did not incur fees.  Had they not had this in place, the legal fees for this would have cost them £15K……for a spurious claim that eventually was struck out. 

I am not suggesting that this protection should not be in place for Employees, as no one should be discriminated against.  However, I wanted to raise awareness to Employers that the process is not simple to have a spurious claim struck out and it can become expensive in terms of solicitor’s fees and your precious time. Tread carefully when terminating an employee’s contract and even before that stage… recruitment is another area of risk. I am urging all of my clients to take out our legal defences cover and follow our advice. If you have a problematic member of staff, then of course you can dismiss… but you just really need to follow the correct process and ensure you are protected.

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