Scots firms facing tribunal claims expected to jump
Scottish businesses are being urged to follow correct redundancy procedures amid a “wave” of compensation claims following a spike in employment tribunal applications during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scottish legal heavyweight Aberdein Considine said new figures show that more than 800 single tribunal claims were lodged north of the Border between April and June. That was the highest level in almost a decade and up by more than a fifth on the same period last year as well as being 3 per cent higher than the UK level.
Aberdein Considine, which specialises in employment law, also stated that the surge – which was reported in new data from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) – gathered pace during lockdown, “suggesting that the economic impact of coronavirus had a direct impact on number of claims being made”.
The law firm warned that the situation could worsen unless businesses get to grips with an “increasingly complex” employment landscape.
Partner Sally-Anne Anderson said: “Although the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme has been extended, it is a sad fact that many more job losses could still be in the pipeline when it does come to end.”
She acknowledged the difficult environment for businesses in Scotland, but cited the trend of employers not following correct redundancy procedures, which is likely to prompt more unfair dismissal claims, and some employers seen to be making blanket decisions to lay off employees who were furloughed.
Anderson added: "As some employees may have been put on furlough for reasons relating to childcare or health concerns, such an approach could lead to an uplift in discrimination claims as well as unfair dismissal claims.”
With furlough coming to an end, she anticipates a rise in claims related to measures taken during lockdown such as breach of contract, holiday pay and unlawful deduction from wages, as well as health and safety claims related to a return to the workplace.
Businesses need to act now, she added, to avoid dealing with tribunal claims, on top of managing restrictions and trying to rebuild their businesses.
“Unless the situation is well-managed and the lines of communication remain open and reasonable, this is simply exposing firms to costly and time consuming employment issues which are avoidable,” she concluded.
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