Facing an Employment Tribunal? Learn the Value of Transcription for Businesses
Employment Tribunal – Quality Transcription Vital as Claims Rise by 90%
Does the thought of being taken to an employment tribunal send a shiver down your spine? Employment tribunal claims rose by a staggering 90& between October and December last year. The spike was a result of the Government scrapping punitive fees. If you were one of those stung at a tribunal, you will understand the importance of having a high-quality defence.
Your HR processes can dictate what claims make it to tribunal. Discover more about employment tribunals and the value of transcription. Read our free guide for businesses, published below.
At Alphabet, we work with savvy HR professionals and businesses of all sizes. Many are facing an employment tribunal for the first time. They do the correct thing and record important meetings. Some then fail to have those recordings expertly transcribed. Having a court-ready document can save time and money. We know how to prepare sound-to-text files accurately and in the right format. Discover the importance of preparing for a potential employment tribunal claim with the information below.
Transcription and Employment Tribunals
Employment tribunals are expensive. According to the British Chambers of Commerce, the average tribunal claim will set a business back £8,500. More workers are taking employers and former employers to tribunal, making quality transcription vital. Claims have almost doubled, following a relaxation of regulations governing the cost of lodging a case. However, there are things employers can do to ensure claims never get to a tribunal.
HR departments can shield themselves from expensive litigation by developing and regularly reviewing their processes. Staying on top of legislation and adapting policies to meet potential threats is vital. Ensure your processes are watertight. Having good quality evidence, including expert transcription, will save your business tens of thousands of pounds. It could stop a case in its tracks or aid a speedy out-of-court settlement. Transcription can also safeguard your brand’s reputation. Make sure you record all disciplinary and grievance meetings. Then outsource audio files to be professionally transcribed in complete confidence.
Use Transcription to Help you Build a Solid Defence for Claims Brought for Alleged:
Remember that such claims can include allegations that cover a very wide spectrum. Claims can arise if an employee believes they suffered discrimination because of their:
• Sexual orientation (including gender reassignment)
• Marriage or civil partnership
• Religious or political beliefs
• Pay (equal pay)
Contact us if you are facing an employment tribunal that involves a claim of discrimination.
Workers can dispute events leading up to a dismissal. They can claim unfair dismissal or constructive dismissal. In these cases, where pay-outs can be very high, transcription is vital. Going into an employment tribunal without quality transcriptions of audio files can weaken your case and give the claimant an instant advantage.
Breach of Contract
Legal professionals always advise employees to sort out breach of contract claims with employers directly. Many cases still end up going to an employment tribunal. Typical cases include ex-employees who allege they have not received pay in lieu of notice. Compensation claims for breach of contract can be costly when coupled with legal fees.
Emerging Employment Tribunal Trends
As transcription specialists, we have noted an increase in claims over working hours, unauthorised deductions from wages and the status of a worker. Many self-employed workers are taking employers to employment tribunals and the courts. That is because they believe they are entitled to the same rights and benefits as employed workers. These are often those employed in the so-called gig economy. You may, for example, require them to be available during set times or to work exclusively for your business.
Other areas of concern include claims resulting from redundancy. Some of these are made by former workers who have not received redundancy pay. Others may have received their redundancy but believe it to be incorrect or unfair. All discussions about redundancy or the laying off of workers should be recorded and audio files transcribed by a specialist. This is especially important if your business is restructuring or developing robust new frameworks to retain a competitive edge.
Transcription Essential as Employment Tribunals Rise
In 2013 and 2014 the Government moved to reduce the number of employment tribunals. New rules deliberately made it more difficult for disgruntled employees to take a business to a tribunal. That is because they introduced fees and a requirement for conciliation. The changes worked and the number of claims going to tribunal was significantly reduced. Many employers failed to use transcription services during this time, thinking they were less likely to face a claim.
The changes followed an explosion in the ‘compensation culture’. Some of the UK’s most respected institutions were losing hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to employment tribunal claims. In 2010, the BBC alone shelled out £600,000 – a huge amount at the time. Many larger businesses started factoring the cost of litigation into their budgets. When the economy went into a prolonged decline, it was money they needed to spend elsewhere. This led to accusations that employment tribunals were a form of ‘legalised extortion’.
Last year everything changed again. After what was described as a ‘humiliating defeat’, the Government was forced to overhaul the system. The Supreme Court ruled fees of up to £1,200 to lodge a claim with an employment tribunal were ‘inconsistent with access to justice’. The Government was then made to pay back an estimated £27 million. Quality transcription became a must-have element of all tribunal defences. Many businesses, however, failed to heed the advice of lawyers. They didn’t tighten up their procedures and policies, and they failed to outsource their transcription.
This complacency came at a time when the number of single claims going to employment tribunals was rising. When fees were first abolished last summer, claims almost immediately rose by 64%. Within months, that figure has further increased to 90%.
To put the statistics into perspective, here are some employment tribunal figures for the period before fees were abolished. Ministry of Justice records show that 83,031 tribunal claims were made between 1st April 2015 and 31st March 2016. Even before the Supreme Court ruling, applications were rising. In the previous financial year, just 61,308 claims were filed. Around 20% of tribunal applications end in a formal hearing.
As the number of claim applications rise, the time it takes to settle an application will take longer. Having high-quality audio transcriptions will aid your case and potentially speed up the process. This is especially true if a claimant has no legal basis for their claim or they cannot prove it.
The UK is preparing to exit the EU. Many workers’ rights campaigners will be looking to make an example of poor or unfair working practices. Your business could be targeted by those seeking to make a political statement as part of the Brexit debate. Talk to us today to discuss your transcription needs now. Protecting your brand from risks before it is too late makes sound financial sense.
Risks of Not Using Transcription for Employment Tribunals
Workplaces can be gossip shops. This is where careless talk doesn’t cost lives, it costs big bucks. Allegiances and unprofessional conduct are risks. This is especially true if you are trusting transcription work to be undertaken in-house. Even simple disputes can escalate, resulting in legal ramifications. That is why it pays to handle all disputes sensitively and professionally.
Have you considered the impact of having audio files transcribed in-house? Keeping information strictly between the parties involved is paramount. That is why outsourcing transcription of audio files is crucial. It helps you micro-manage a situation from the very beginning.
Transcription that involves audio recordings of more than one person speaking can be complex. You will often hear multiple people speaking at the same time. One or more of the parties can sound emotional, angry or fail to speak up. Having a trained ear listen to and transcribe sound files is imperative when accuracy is everything.
Expert audio transcription will make sense of a recording. It sets out exactly what is said, by whom and in the right context. If required, it can document a tone of voice. This is important if an employee is aggressive. Transcription is a godsend if an employee makes false or exaggerated claims. It also highlights any inconsistencies and ensures a text document mirrors what is said in a recording.
Avoid ‘off-the record’ chats. They are a major pitfall for businesses. Make sure that protocols are followed in recorded meetings. It will give you a head start. Outsourcing audio transcription will further support your defence if an application for a claim is later filed.
Recorded Meetings and Employment Tribunals
Many employees are using covert methods to record meetings at work. They are using new technologies to document on and off-the-record chats with HR professionals and line managers. Those recordings are finding their way into tribunal hearings. Now that they are considered admissible as evidence in certain circumstances, you need to act. We advise businesses to record meetings and to make sure all parties are aware in advance. This ensures meetings are conducted with litigation defence in mind.
Five years ago, tribunals considered secret recordings made by employees as inadmissible. Whistleblowers and others are now afforded more protection by the law. That means tribunal evidence is changing. An employee will have to have their recording transcribed and made available to you. It is unlikely to match the standard of transcription designed for businesses and, more specifically, employment tribunals.
Quality transcription includes the detail that an average audio typist will miss. Mobile technology has made it easy to record any conversation at any time. It makes good business sense to keep all talks formal and recorded. Disputed claims can be resolved by high quality documentation. Getting the right result at an employment tribunal can be difficult if you cannot support your defence with sound evidence.
Always secure the services of an audio transcription specialist. Also, ensure you keep a proper record of any information that could lead to a disciplinary hearing. For example, are you concerned an employee is lying about the extent of a medical condition or injury sustained as a result of an accident at work? You should follow disciplinary procedures. You will be within the law to dismiss an employee for misconduct, if you can prove you have been thorough in your investigations and recordkeeping.
Equal pay is expected to be the root of thousands of new claims this year. It is worth remembering that equality clauses will support many of these applications. Take into account the ‘value’ of workers’ roles. For example, many women in customer-facing roles, they may claim they should be paid the same as men working in warehouses and other behind-the-scenes jobs. Think of ‘equal value’ when you set pay to avoid the equality pay trap.
With the abolition of employment tribunal fees, expect to see more false claims. Keep a detailed record of disciplinary hearings. It will help you prove if a claimant is lying. Employee injury fraud, for example, is a known risk to businesses. How many times have you had an injured employee sign themselves off sick? And how often do they then post on social media images of themselves out playing golf or getting stuck into DIY? Get the drift?
Alphabet Transcription Specialists
If you want to protect your business from an employment tribunal claim, act now. Review your disciplinary procedures and ensure you keep all ‘chats’ on-the-record and recorded. Use our completely confidential transcription services to keep your documentation of sound files in order. Make sure they meet quality benchmarks and are fit to support your defence. High quality transcription can stop a claim from proceeding to tribunal. They can also save your business money.
Find out more about our cost-effective online transcription services by telephoning +44 (0) 1707 260027. You can discuss your requirements in complete confidence.
The Founder of Alphabet, Denise Elsdon, commenced her training at British Aerospace. Having gained her RSA and Pitman qualifications, she embarked on her chosen career path as a personal secretary. Back in 1995, Alphabet Secretarial Services was born. Since then, Alphabet has provided professional transcription services to amazing clients like the NHS, Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) and others.