According to The Times today:
“The BBC paid out almost £600,000 dealing with employment tribunal claims last year.
A total of £379,125 went in payments to aggrieved staff to settle cases and a further £203,627 was spent in external lawyers’ fees in 2009-10, figures released by the BBC in response to a Freedom of Information request show.”
This was for 33 employees.
So on average £11,500 compensation and £6,100 for legal fees.
Helen Giles in the opinion section suggests that Employment Tribunals are nothing but legal extortion which effectively give employees an easy way to claim some cash. She bemoans certain unnamed firms which “saber rattle” with the knowledge that their client’s claims are spurious.
Firstly, if she knows of such firms they should be reported to the SRA.
In my experience, acting mostly for employers, I have to say that most claims are not spurious but come about through poor management or bad or no Legal advice before dismissal, redundancy etc.
More should be spent on training line managers and this will reduce fees to lawyers (which seem quite reasonable actually!).
Of course, there will be some claims which will be spurious, particularly I find the “bullying” type claims, but then these can be easily defended and if they are spurious then defended successfully with costs arguments at the end.
The BBC could, as could most companies, benefit hugely from compulsory employment mediation. Not just a call from acas, but immediately after the ET3 is filed, both parties should attend a Tribunal backed mediation scheme. This would also help root out spurious claims at the earliest stage.
I’m training to be an accredited mediator soon and I really think mediation is the way forward.
Please leave your comments below.