Employment Tribunal...Rough justice?

Employment Tribunal...Rough justice?

Gill Switalski, a 53-year old former City lawyer, claimed £19 million from her former employer over claims she suffered bullying and sexual discrimination.  In early 2010 she accepted an out of court settlement believed to be in the millions of pounds, in return for dropping her claim.

This is an extreme example, but it illustrates a trend towards stratospheric levels of compensation for top-earners.  There’s also growing controversy over the onus of the burden of proof in discrimination cases.  A 2005 tribunal found that the employee had successfully established a prima facie case of discrimination, despite failing to prove that the discriminatory act had actually been committed by her employer (Webster v Brunel University, 14 December 2004).

But it’s not only the top-earners who can cost employers dear.  According to the Employment Tribunal Annual Reports, almost 297,000 people sued their employer in 2008 - up 24% on 2007 - and the average cost of a tribunal is now £20,000.  Given the plethora of no-win/no-fee solicitors, the cost to the employee is virtually nil.  But for the employer, costs are incurred from the outset – as well as a vast amount of management time.  Employers lament that they have trouble in simply keeping up with the shifting sands of employment legislation, making it difficult to identify precisely what their duties or obligations are.

Employers could be forgiven for thinking that the dice are loaded against them.  But there is a solution - in the form of Employment Practice Liability Insurance (EPL), which is now widely available to UK companies.  EPL helps with the costs involved in defending an action as well as paying for compensation levied against them.  The policy also provides valuable support services - such as 24-hour telephone access to employment law specialists and regular updates on legislation and regulation.  EPL insurance covers against:

  • Wrongful/unfair dismissal
  • Harassment & discrimination
  • Negligent evaluation
  • Whistle-blower retaliation
  • Wrongful deprivation of career opportunity
  • Breach of an oral or written employment contract

Email or call me to talk through your Employment Practice Liability Insurance.

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Hanna Beaumont FIRM

DIRECTOR, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Direct Dial: +44 (0) 1223 200664

Mobile: +44 (0) 7795 473071

Email: hanna.beaumont@laplayainsurance.com

Twitter: @HannaBLaPlaya