Friday, 4 October 2013

Lawyer gives a stern reminder


A £13,000 bill handed out to office equipment giant Lyreco is a stern reminder of the dangers of failing to follow correct human resources practices, our employment law expert has claimed.

John Mehtam, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, was commenting on the case brought against Lyreco by field sales representative David Atkin.

Mr Atkin, a member of the GMB union, was awarded the five-figure sum after winning his case for unfair dismissal against the company, which has an office in Telford, after being fired by his regional sales manager.

The judge said the disciplinary process leading to Mr Atkin’s dismissal was “at worst a sham, but at best lacked any form of investigation or analysis”.

John said:  “The judge also said it demonstrated practices which any human resources manager should quite frankly be ashamed of, and said the appeal was not worthy of the name.

“It is a very stern reminder to Shropshire companies that, if they do not have a proper infrastructure in place for dealing effectively with disciplinary matters, they could end up paying a stiff financial penalty.

“In particular, companies need to ensure they carry out a fair and thorough investigation into any staff disciplinary issues, apply a fair procedure, and under no circumstances must they pre-determine any disciplinary hearing.”

He said: “In Mr Atkin’s case, the judge clearly said that his regional sales manager did not approach the appeal with an open mind, and appeared to be partisan and biased.

“Employers who disregard these principles do so at their peril. They can face very serious sanctions including a rise in the compensation level awarded by the tribunal, and some very damaging, adverse publicity. This Lyreco case is an excellent example where the tribunal essentially lambasted the company for shortcomings in its disciplinary process.”