BUSINESSES are being warned to ensure their human resources processes are watertight or risk facing expensive consequences.

It follows a recent explosion in the number of people taking their employers to employment tribunals.

Hannah-Jane (H-J) Dobbie, head of HR consultancy at accountancy firm Azets, which has offices in Bournemouth and Poole, said this includes claims for failing to follow a proper redundancy process, wrongful dismissal, and additional claims for injury to feelings.

She said: “Employees with grievances appear to be far more likely to take matters further than they would have been in the past. And the onus is on the employer to disprove the claim, rather than the employee to prove it, which can be difficult.

“I believe it is very much due to the state of the candidate-driven recruitment market. People know that they can walk out of a job, make a claim, and still walk into another job, potentially quite quickly, especially if they have an in-demand skill set.

“There are a lot more claims coming forward which would likely never have got to the tribunal hearing stage previously.”

H-J’s advice to SMEs and other businesses is to be scrupulous in dealing with all human resources matters.

“When you are making decisions about terminating an employee’s employment, regardless of the reason why, you need to make sure you are following proper process and that you are, where appropriate, following the relevant ACAS Code of Practice,” she said,

“It is extremely easy now for employees to make claims and it is becoming harder for employers to defend them. If you want to make certain decisions make sure you seek advice and follow a proper procedure to avoid putting yourself in a demanding and potentially expensive situation.”

Azets launched a hands-on, one-stop shop’ HR consultancy service for SMEs early last year.

The new venture, aiming to help SMEs meet their core HR needs, including bespoke advice and support on a wide range of HR-related issues such as grievances, recruitment, compliance, procedures, restructuring, policies, and handbooks, led to Azets hiring several additional staff and the team is continuing to expand as demand for their services increases.