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Top 10 Tips for Reducing Risk of Employee Claims

As businesses continue to grapple with the wide ranging impacts of COVID19 upon their operations, there are a number of pragmatic measures that employers can take in order to minimise the risk of grievances and ultimately discrimination, unfair dismissal or health & safety-related employment tribunal claims being brought against them.

  • Communicating with staff, providing detailed explanations about steps taken to control and reduce risks, such as how the workplace will be maintained Covid-secure.
  • Understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with concerns about returning to the workplace, particularly those who are protected under the Equality Act 2010.
  • Taking proactive steps around employee wellbeing and mental health, whether staff return to the workplace or remain at home. 
  • Involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or might make any measures that might be implemented inappropriate or challenging for them.
  • Considering whether there are any particular measures or adjustments which need to be put in place to take account of  duties under the Equality Act 2010; consider specific risk assessments and bespoke risk mitigation if appropriate (for example, for pregnant workers).
  • Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage – note that many clinically vulnerable individuals may be disabled under the definition espoused in the Equality Act 2010.
  • Assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers (note that  expectant mothers are, as always, entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found).
  • Making sure that the steps taken do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others – for example those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.
  • Ensuring flexible working, home working and grievance policies are up-dated to deal with the inevitable rise in flexible working requests for home working and grievances from employees who wish to challenge the decision to return to the workplace.
  • Considering alternative options such as temporarily changing role, working hours  or shift pattern (to avoid busy commuting times or busier times in the office), home working, parental leave and furlough; and taking legal advice if considering more draconian options of unpaid leave, disciplinary action or dismissal.

Economic downturn and increasing unemployment will combine to incentivise aggrieved employees look wherever possible for financial compensation. Carefully considering the potential risks in any potentially contentious situation will help minimise risk of employee claims.

If a free consultation on this or any other employment law related issue would be of help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us

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