Yes, we're in the game where this could happen but equally we only ever act on our client's behalf as a neutral party. It seemed pretty obvious that any claim against us was actually a claim against our client, and we were simply being named as part of throw-enough-mud-at-the-wall strategy.
The outcome was entirely that Mint were not the right respondents to this claim and the case was dropped when it was first reviewed by the tribunal. BUT not until after weeks of work to defend it, printing my body weight in tribunal papers and let's not even mention the stress.
Why am I sharing such news when most would want to brush it under the carpet? I want to share my learning but most of all I want to share the positives from this. When small businesses call on Mint for support, they get help from a team who have pretty much seen everything HR related, have experience of managing people so get that too and have experience of running a small business so know what that feels like. To top it all off they now have experience of defending their own little entity at tribunal and coming out the other side. We get it all we've walked and continue to walk in our clients' shoes.
The fact of the matter is there's very little stopping someone bringing a tribunal claim they've pretty much got nothing to lose (unless you go after them for costs but that's not easy to pursue). Some claims are spurious and you just want to scream how the hell is this being allowed/listened to/given the time of day.
Do I think tribunal fees should be re-introduced? I'm not entirely sure because everyone deserves to be heard if they've got a genuine claim.
Do I think there needs to be a re-think about how claims are managed, to be struck out earlier if there is absolutely no prospect of success? Whole heartedly. Until you've been through it you will never fully appreciate how disruptive and costly such claims can be even way before it even gets to a full tribunal.
So, what are my learning points and top tips:
- Make sure you have tribunal cover most business insurance policies provide this and I consider this to be invaluable. You may have a HR policy which does indemnify you against tribunal proceedings but just check what this entails.
Inform your insurer as soon as there's a whiff of a claim if someone goes to ACAS early conciliation let your insurer know just in case it goes further.
- Use legal advice you may think you've got it in the bag but legal present it all in the correct manner. I've got 23 years' experience in HR but even I would get legal support because the courts are a whole different world you want someone in the know, in your corner.
- Keep your head held high if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about. You will however go through all the emotions; anger, sadness, frustration accept these but don't let them drag you down too much.
- Learn from it what could you have done differently. Even with the case against Mint, there were still tweaks to be made and we made them. It would be a tragedy if you didn't take something from a situation like this and learn from it.