Bhayani Law, a Sheffield-based employment and HR law firm, highlights the importance of planning ahead to avoid litigation brought about by the challenges both businesses and their employees are facing during the current cost of living crisis.
The recent rise in litigation, including employment tribunal, unfair dismissal, and discrimination claims, is something that Bhayani Law is seeing across all sectors, as companies are struggling financially due to increased costs and individuals are more likely to seek opportunities to claim against their employers. This can lead to a reduction in staff numbers, sometimes unnecessarily and with great risk due to poor decision making that looks at cutting corners rather than planning ahead.
Bhayani Law represents both employees and employers, offering insight from both sides. Their aim is to help businesses use the proper procedures to prevent these challenges from escalating towards litigation. One the one hand, there has been a rise in opportunist employment tribunal claims, and on the other hand, employers are also being hit with rising costs and making rash decisions in terms of redundancies, leading to disputes where full consultation processes have not been followed and employees feel they have been treated unfairly.
When companies don’t take the time to plan and evaluate the need for redundancies properly, they are either leaving themselves short and having to hire again – which could potentially make any recent redundancies unlawful – or are having to make further redundancies within a short period, causing more staff unrest and damaging morale. Thinking ahead and obtaining advice early means Bhayani Law can help them explore other options, such as temporary contract changes to ride out a difficult period without losing staff or making risky dismissal decisions.
The team are also seeing a rise in discrimination claims, often due to employers seeing equality and diversity training as a luxury rather than a necessity. The similar rise in unfair dismissal claims for misconduct, absences and performance management stems from a lack of HR support. “Having in-house or external HR support, unless you are really confident in your own knowledge, is key,” explains Director and Head of Employment Law Lindsey Gaimster. “Employment law is not something you can opt in and out of, and the cost of getting it wrong usually far outweighs any investment in advice or support.”
Bhayani Law advises employers of the risks associated with individual dismissals and supports them during the process. They also help employers explore alternatives such as upskilling, training, or a settlement agreement. Lindsey adds: “Workforce planning can be hard for employers, particularly when they’re in the midst of a crisis, but if you’re letting your workforce go unnecessarily it’s only going to cause more problems in the long term, especially with the current difficulties in recruiting good candidates, so it’s essential to look ahead in order to protect your business.”