Chelsea doctor tribunal shows workplace resolution ‘still takes too long’

SMEs not afforded the same conveniences as high-profile football case, says Forum of Private Business

The case of Dr Eva Carneiro, former team doctor at Chelsea Football Club, highlights one of the persistent problems with the UK’s employment tribunal system, according to the Forum of Private Business: the length of time it takes for a company to resolve an issue.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice suggest the average clearance time of a single claim in 2015 was 29 weeks – 24 weeks less than in the same period last year – while the average clearance time for multiple-claim cases was 196 weeks, down from 205 weeks in the previous year.

However, the forum said the length of time, the “inconvenience” of when the cases are heard and the costs of defending a case at tribunal helped to deter both employers and workers from seeking justice.

Ian Cass, managing director of the forum, said: “The fact is that it still takes too long for companies to have these issues resolved. There is already a deterrent for businesses in terms of the fines that can be levied and that the complexity of law only makes it more likely that the best solution is to pay the individual off.”

With the introduction of tribunal fees in 2013, claimants can expect to pay up to £1,200 to have their case heard, while the British Chambers of Commerce said the average cost to employers of defending an employment tribunal is around £8,500.

Cass said the employer’s interests were being protected in the Carneiro case, because it is being heard in private and has been scheduled during the FA’s ‘close season’ – when no official football competition is played – despite being first filed in December 2015. It’s unlikely that the average organisation would have been afforded the same privilege, he added.

“The 10 days alone allocated to hear the tribunal would have a massive impact on a smaller company, particularly as it is unlikely it would have been heard at a convenient time as has happened in this instance,” he said.

“However, whatever the size of company, it is still a very stressful experience and the timing of the case will not do anything for the reputation of the company or its former manager.”

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Carneiro rejected a £1.2 million settlement from Chelsea Football Club in favour of taking her case to tribunal.

She is claiming sex discrimination and harassment against the club’s former manager, José Mourinho, and constructive dismissal against Chelsea, following an incident in August 2015 when she ran on to the pitch to treat an injured player during a game.

The football club’s legal team said it would prove that it had taken steps to settle with the claimant as it was “in no one’s interests that this dispute be determined through litigation”.

The forum is calling on the government to speed up employment tribunals – with a target of three months for single claims – and campaigning for the time it takes to clear multiple cases at tribunal to be slashed to one year.

Cass said: “Some organisations will scare the living daylights out of you about employment tribunals, but it is important to remember that good communication with clear contracts and letting all staff understand what is expected of them is [crucial]. Businesses need to act swiftly to nip any problems in the bud rather than let them linger, and treat all staff fairly.”

 

Story via – http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2016/06/07/chelsea-doctor-tribunal-shows-workplace-resolution-still-takes-too-long.aspx

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