What affect will new public employment tribunal reporting have on businesses?
A major shift in the reporting of employment tribunal verdicts early this year could have serious implications on employers. Judgements that are, at present, only available by request from HM Courts and Tribunal Service, will soon be free and easy to access by the public via an online search.
While this new regime has been broadly welcomed in the interests of increasing transparency, legal experts have predicted employers fear of reputational damage should verdicts be made available. Potential clients, customers or employees will be able to search tribunal judgements by company name or topic, meaning employers may now be more in favour of out of court settlements, or even be in danger of ‘blacklisting’ previous litigants.
HMCTS has stated that the service will be free to users and, at present, it is thought only new verdicts will be published. Experts have claimed that this could result in the increased number of litigants as many potential claimants will be given confidence by viewing patterns in previous claims. On the other hand, as part of their recruitment process, employers could search the database for previous litigants resulting in an unofficial ‘blacklist’.
Ultimately, as Tim Tyndall, a partner at Birketts told people management, “Well-advised employers shouldn’t be at the tribunal if they think they are going to lose,” he added. “We have always had public hearings, so your dirty washing has always been visible to a degree. This just makes it easier for more people to find [information] if they have the time to trawl through.”