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Using HR Consultants

The role of external HR Consultants was recently scrutinised by the Employment Appeal Tribunal in GM Packaging (UK) Limited v Haslem [2014].

When faced with a claim of unfair dismissal, the burden is upon the employer to prove that the termination was fair by reference to one of the statutory reasons stipulated by the Employment Rights Act 1996. The employer has to show that he acted fairly and that the decision to dismiss was within a “band of reasonable responses”.

In this case, the employer had handed over the disciplinary process (and the subsequent appeal) to an external consultant and followed his advice to dismiss.

The EAT held that it was fair and reasonable to delegate matters to an HR Consultant. This does not, of course, mean that the employer can abdicate all responsibility but it endorses the responsible use of outside advice.

Too many managers first learn of their failings in the conduct of Disciplinary, Grievance or other meetings when these are the subject of cross-examination in front of an Employment Tribunal. Compliance with the law and ACAS Codes of Practice is essential if avoidable defeats and substantial financial judgments are not to be incurred. Our Employment Law Team is able to supply you with the level of resources right for you – from a quiet, “hand-holding” presence to actual conduct of proceedings – necessary to ensure a safe and satisfactory outcome.

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